March was Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month. Did you know that every day about 2,000 US workers experience a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment (NIOSH)? Many of these injuries can be prevented by taking precautions. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3/5 of these injuries happened when the workers were not wearing eye protection.
So when should you wear eye protection? Anytime you are working with chemicals, UV or infrared radiation, steam, grease, oil or flying debris (wood, metal, etc.) you should wear safety glasses, face shields or goggles. The occupations most at risk for eye injuries include
- Electrical Work
- Auto Repair
Another and more recent potential eye hazard is Computer Vision Syndrome (aka Digital Eye Strain). One simple way to reduce the strain on your eyes is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes you are looking at a screen, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you have difficulties viewing a computer screen because of your sight, consider using computer flip-ups to reduce neck strain and headaches.
Not only should workers wear eye protection, but they should wear the right kind of eye protection. Make sure your safety glasses meet ANSI standards. If you are working in a dusty environment or somewhere that chemicals are being used, safety goggles may be the best option as they provide protection all around the eyes. Of course, you should always contact your supervisor to make sure that you are wearing the proper safety eye wear, and other protective clothing (like helmets or gloves).
Lastly, make sure that you know what to do in case of an eye emergency. Find out where the eye wash station is located in case you splash something in your eye. If you ever cut your eye or eyelid, cover the eye with a rigid shield and seek immediate medical attention. If a foreign object enters your eye do not rub it; rinse your eye at the eyewash station and seek medical attention.