October is Eye Injury Prevention & Safety Month

In the United States, October is dedicated to being Eye Injury Prevention & Safety month. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), more than 2 million people suffer eye injuries each year in the United States, with almost half of that number occurring at work, and nearly one million people have lost some amount of vision as the result.

Most of these workplace injuries could be avoided by using proper eyewear. According to the Occupational Safety & Environmental Association (OSEA), these are the most common injuries that occur performing these on the job:

  • Striking or scraping: Most eye injuries result from small particles or objects striking or scraping the eye, such as dust, cement chips, metal slivers, and wood chips. These materials are often ejected by tools, windblown, or fall from above a worker. Large objects may also strike the eye or face, or a worker may run into an object causing blunt-force trauma to the eyeball or eye socket.
  • Penetration: Objects like nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal can go through the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision.
  • Chemical and thermal burns: Industrial chemicals or cleaning products are common causes of chemical burns to one or both eyes. Thermal burns to the eye also occur often among welders and the use of industrial lasers. These burns routinely damage workers' eyes and surrounding tissue.
  • Eye strain: The dependence on smart phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices causes an ergonomic issue because of the blue light from these devices. There are blue light filtering glasses that can be used to reduce eye strain for those who spend a lot of time in front of their computer.
  • Other: Eye injuries can occur outside of the work place, too, such as playing outdoor sports, such as baseball, tennis, soccer, and volleyball. Severe eye injuries can occur if not paying attention when using consumer fireworks. Dust and debris from a fired rifle can also lead to eye injury while hunting. Even mowing your lawn can lead to loose gravel or sticks becoming dangerous projectiles if swept up and shot out from the mower.

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Workers can prevent eye injury by wearing personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, or full-face respirators. Eye protection should be fit to an individual or adjustable to provide appropriate coverage. Eye protection should be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision.

The AAO also recommends that at least one pair of ANSI-approved (American National Standards Institute) protective eyewear be worn when doing projects and activities on the job. If ANSI Z87.1 or ANSI Z89.1 is marked on the lens or frame, these would be appropriate for use.

For serious injuries to the eyes, such as cuts, chemical burns, or foreign objects stuck in the eye – DO NOT attempt to treat these situations yourself – go to the emergency room or consult your eye doctor and seek medical treatment immediately.

The AAO recommends frequent and comprehensive eye exams, at least two per year, to ensure healthy vision. If you haven’t had an eye exam in a while, schedule an appointment today!

Information gathered from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Occupational Safety & Environment Association.

Tags Safety

About Ben Cornett

Ben Cornett

Ben Cornett is the Technical Writer for Wimsatt Building Materials.

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