By Mark S. Siegel
More than 700,000 work-related eye injuries occur each year. March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month — a good time to refocus attention on your eye protection program. Get the facts here, plus 10 tips for injury prevention.
As the National Safety Council points out, “All it takes is a tiny sliver of metal, particle of dust, or splash of chemical to cause significant and permanent eye damage.”
OSHA’s eye and face protection standard requires employers to “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids, or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.”
Share these injury-prevention tips with managers and supervisors.
1. Look carefully at plant operations, work areas, access routes, and equipment. Study injury patterns to see where accidents are occurring.
2. Conduct regular vision testing, as uncorrected vision can cause accidents.
3. Select protective eyewear based on specific duties or hazards.
4. Establish a mandatory eye protection program in all operation areas.
5. Have eyewear fitted by a professional.
6. Establish first-aid procedures for eye injuries, and make eyewash stations available, especially where chemicals are in use.
7. Make eye safety part of your employee training and new hire orientation.
8. Make sure managers and executives set an example by wearing protective eyewear wherever it’s worn by other employees.
9. Regularly review and revise your policies, and set a goal of zero eye injuries.
10. Display a copy of your policy where employees can see it.
It’s also a good time to remind employees of off-the-job eye hazards like do-it-yourself work on cars and homes, cooking accidents, sports injuries, yard work, and chemical splashes from cleaners and fertilizers.
So please protect your eyes — you only get two of them.