October is Eye Injury Prevention Month. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that eye injuries cost more than $300 million each year in "lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.” Eye injuries have a major impact on workers, not just on the job but also in everyday life. When working in the construction industry, eye injuries can be caused by exposure to tools, materials, and other hazards.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identifies three types of common eye injuries to workers:
- Striking or scraping: The majority of 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. These burns routinely damage workers’ eyes and surrounding tissue.
There are several tips for preventing eye injury:
- Wear appropriate eye protection. Depending on the work you are doing, this could include safety glasses, face shields, or goggles. Appropriate eye protection can help prevent hazards from getting into the eyes.
- Be aware of dangers for the area you are in and task you are completing. Eye protection may be required even if you are not working on materials in the space.
- Try to eliminate any dangers before you begin working. Always use safety features and appropriate precautions.
As with any safety feature, prevention is key. Be aware of the hazards in your area, eliminate dangers, and use safety precautions. Taking time to be safe is always worth it.
One Team. One Vision. One Goal. – Everyone Goes Home Safe!