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How to Prevent Eye Injuries in a Hazardous Workplace

Did you know that in the U.S. about 2,000 workplace eye injuries occur every day? Almost 70% of accidents happen because of flying or falling objects. And would you believe, most of the objects are smaller than the head of a pin?

Most workplace eye injuries occur where safety eyewear isn’t required, or left up to the individual to decide if they’ll wear it. Many of those injured on the job didn’t think they needed to wear safety glasses or protective gear, or were wearing eyewear that didn’t provide adequate protection.

Don’t become an eye injury statistic! Follow the eye safety checklist below to protect your vision.

Eye Safety Checklist

This quick checklist will help you avoid workplace eye injuries and may also make you more aware of possible hazards outside of work.

Create a safe work environment.

  • Minimize hazards from falling or unstable objects.
  • Make sure that tools work and that safety features are in place.
  • Make sure people know how to use tools properly.
  • Keep bystanders out of hazardous areas.

Evaluate safety hazards.

  • Identify the primary hazards at the site.
  • Identify hazards from nearby workers, large machinery, and falling/shifting objects.

Wear the proper eye and face protection.

  • Select the right eye protection for the work site.
  • Make sure safety eyewear is in good condition.
  • Make sure safety eyewear fits right and stays in place.

Use smart workplace safety practices.

  • Always brush, shake, or vacuum dust and debris from hardhats, hair, forehead, or your brow before removing protective eyewear.
  • Don’t rub eyes with dirty hands or clothing.
  • Clean eyewear regularly.

First Aid for Eye Injuries

But if there is an accident, follow these steps:

Specks in the Eye

  • Don’t rub the affected eye.
  • Flush the eye with lots of water.
  • See a doctor if the speck doesn’t wash out, or if pain or redness continues.

Cuts, Punctures, and Foreign Objects in the Eye

  • Unlike with specks of dust or metal, be sure not to wash out the affected eye.
  • Don’t try to remove a foreign object stuck in the eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Chemical Burns

  • Immediately flush the eye with water or drinkable liquid. Open the eye as wide as possible. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes, even on your way to seeking medical care.
  • If a contact lens is in the eye, begin flushing over the lens immediately. Flushing may dislodge the lens.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Blows to the Eye

  • Apply a cold compress without pressure, or tape crushed ice in a plastic bag to the forehead and allow it to rest gently on the injured eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if pain continues, if you have reduced vision, or if blood or discoloration appears in the eye.

Make an appointment with your VSP network eye doctor to ensure your safety glasses and eyewear fit you properly. If you need to seek medical attention after an eye injury, go straight to your medical doctor.

Sources: Prevent Blindness America, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health