While eye safety is a commonly discussed topic on job sites across the country, nearly 700,000 Americans injure their eyes at work each year, with many of them having lost some degree of eye sight due to these injuries. Most industry professionals believe as many as 90% of these were preventable with the proper, simple measures taken.
Some of those controls are:
•Know the hazard. Read the SDS information at your morning meetings, discuss the concerns for high winds and moving to areas that prevent blowing dust, and understand what measures should be taken with the job you will be performing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
•Use the proper tool for the job. Trying to cut metal with a Metabo produces far more opportunity for particles than cutting metal with a torch.
•Smart work practices. Always brush, shake, or vacuum dust from your hard hat or hair before removing protective eye wear. Lean forward when lifting and removing your face shield to prevent particles from falling into your face and eyes. Don’t rub your face or eyes with dirty hands or rags. Clean safety gear regularly.
•Wear proper eye protection for the job at hand. Always wear Ansi approved Z-87 glasses, and proper face shields or welding hoods to protect your eyes. If you have any questions regarding the need for these items, refer to your JSA or ask your Ideal Contracting Site Safety Rep for help.
If these measures fail and someone does get an eye injury, be prepared:
•Have a fully stocked first aid kit readily available with sterile eye wash solution and gauze.
•Know what procedures to take depending on the type of injury. Chemical splash injuries are treated with 15 minutes or more of flushing from a clean water source. A penetrative injury requires no fluids, but does require immediate medical attention while trying not to remove what is in the eye as this could lead to further damage. A particle in the eye should be addressed first by holding out the upper eye lid and blinking numerous times. If that doesn’t remove it, rinse it with eye wash. If you have a blunt force injury, apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth and if blurriness persists, seek medical treatment.
•Have an emergency procedure in place and well communicated on your site should an injury occur.