Did you know that March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month? This is a time to focus on the importance of protecting your eyes at work. Many workplace eye hazards can cause damage, and it’s essential to take steps to mitigate these risks. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common workplace eye hazards and how to protect yourself from them.
2000 People, Daily!
Data provided by the CDC shows that more than 2,000 people sustain an eye injury while on the job every day. Welding equipment causes around 15,000 eye injuries every year. Power tools are second on the list, responsible for about 10,000 injuries.
Looking back on these numbers, they are astounding! The most important thing to realize is that most injuries can be prevented by using eye protection at work. Whether they be safety glasses, welding glasses, or even blue-blockers for those that sit in front of a computer screen all day, Prevent Blindness has named March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month to help workers learn how to protect themselves better.
Common Workplace Eye Injuries
We usually think of work-related eye injuries as focusing mainly on construction work, landscaping, or animal handling. Ironically, working in an office can be just as hazardous to your eyesight.
Striking or scraping: Small particles or objects striking or rubbing the eye, such as dust, cement chips, metal slivers, and wood chips. 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.
Eye Strain: An aspect that often gets overlooked is the eye strain caused by working in front of a screen for extended periods. This injury is not immediate. Instead, it takes time, so you don’t notice anything is wrong until your vision starts blurring and you have constant headaches.
Preventing Eye Injuries
Are you aware of your risks for eye damage, but are you doing the most simple thing to avoid 90% of those occurrences? Wearing the proper protective eyewear considerably lowers your chance of suffering an eye injury or site loss.
Eye Safety at Home
- Inspect and remove debris from lawns before mowing.
- Keep paints, pesticides, fertilizers, and similar products properly stored in a secure area.
- Keep your tools in good condition; damaged tools should be repaired or replaced.
- Wear safety glasses or dust goggles to protect against flying particles and chemical goggles to guard against exposure to fertilizers and pesticides.
- Wear chemical safety goggles when using hazardous solvents and detergents.
- Read and follow all manufacturer instructions and warning labels.
- Do not mix cleaning agents.
- Know that regular eyeglasses don’t always provide enough protection.
Eye Safety at Work
There are three things you can do to help prevent an eye injury:
- Know the eye safety dangers at work by doing an eye hazard assessment
- Eliminate hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls
- Use proper eye protection.
When Should I Protect My Eyes at Work?
You should wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear.
Safety eyewear protection includes:
- Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses
- Face shields
- Welding helmets
- Full-face respirators
Let’s not forget those that work at a computer all day! Computer Vision Syndrome is a real thing and can lead to headaches, dry eyes, and blurry vision.
Here are a few steps to help protect your eyes while sitting at your desk.
- Wear blue-blocker lenses.
- Reposition your screen. Adjust your screen to be at a right angle away from any direct light source. Invest in an anti-glare screen for your monitor to make computer work gentler on your eyes.
- Remember the 20-20-20 rule. This rule reminds you that every 20 minutes, you should look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t forget to blink. While it may sound ridiculous, write yourself a note and place it on your monitor. Write “Blink Often” or any other message that will remind you to regularly close your eyes to keep them from getting dried out.
- Use artificial tears. Over-the-counter eye drops can be extremely helpful in preventing dry eye and keeping your eyes comfortable.
- Drink water. Adequate hydration can make a big difference, especially during the winter months when heaters and furnaces can make the air particularly dry.
- Schedule regular comprehensive eye exams. Nothing can replace the importance of having an eye exam by a licensed ophthalmologist at regular intervals. If you have any concerns about your vision or experience any changes with your eyesight, do not delay making an appointment.
Workplace Eye Wellness Month is the perfect time to learn about common workplace eye injuries and prevent them. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, nearly 2,000 workers suffered job-related eye injuries in 2020. Almost half of all work-related eye injuries occur in manufacturing industries. If you’re a worker in one of these industries or want to be safe while playing sports this summer, remember to protect your eyes! Wear safety goggles when working with hazardous materials or using power tools. Always! One can never be too careful!