Unsafe Workplaces Endanger Workers’ Vision
Nearly 800,000 people suffer work-related eye injuries each year, most in accidents that could have been prevented. Every day, some 2,000 workers undergo medical treatment for eye injuries connected with or suffered on the job, reports the Vision Council, an organization that represents manufacturers of vision care products.
While vision loss is among the 10 most common disabilities, 90 percent of eyes injuries could be prevented if workers and companies would follow common-sense safety rules.
Using the proper personal protective equipment at work cuts the possibility of an eye injury significantly. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has a list of standards that employers and workers should follow to protect their eyes and face from chemical, environmental, radiological and mechanical irritants, according to the Vision Council.
The most frequent causes of work-related eye injuries involve:
- Heavy machinery and construction equipment. About 10,000 eye injuries related to power tools happen annually.
- Flying objects and debris. Wounds to the surface of the eye from items such as splinters and debris occur in 38 percent of eye injuries.
- Harmful substances and environments. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 15,000 injuries each year from welding equipment.
- Digital eye strain leading to red, dry or irritated eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back, neck and shoulder pain and headaches. This can come from looking at TVs, desktop and laptop computers, smartphones, e-readers, tablets and gaming systems.
Eye injuries not only exact a physical toll on workers but they also hurt employers financially, costing about $300 million each year in medical bills, workers’ compensation and lost work time, according to the Vision Council. Private industry reported more than 27,000 days off from work because of eye injuries in a recent year.
Men between the ages of 25 and 44 suffer 80 percent of workplace eye injuries. Of all work days missed because of head injuries, 45 percent involve eye injuries.
These jobs require eye protection:
- Auto repair: Goggles, safety glasses with side shields
- Carpentry: Goggles, safety glasses with side shields
- Construction: Safety glasses with side shields
- Driving: Polycarbonate lenses with UV protection and anti-reflective coating
- Electrical work: Safety glasses with side shields, arc-rated face shield
- Health care, laboratory, janitorial: Goggles, face shields
- Manufacturing: Spectacles, goggles, safety glasses with side shields
- Plumbing: Spectacles, goggles, safety glasses with side shields
- Welding: Welding goggles and helmets
Don’t take unnecessary risks with your eyes. Good vision is too valuable to let carelessness at work or at home destroy your eyes. Take common-sense precautions to protect yourself.