There are a variety of eye injuries and conditions that can occur in the workplace and it’s important to be aware of potential hazards and to take the appropriate precautions.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), around 2,000 American workers sustain a job-related eye injury each day that requires medical treatment. In most of the cases, the patients report that they were not using safety eyewear at all. On other occasions, the protective gear either did not fit properly or did not offer the right amount of protection to the individual. It is strongly recommended that individuals wear proper protective eyewear, such as goggles, to reduce the probability of eye injuries. This safety gear is not just for prevention but can reduce the severity of eye injuries.
Some of the most common causes of worksite eye injuries include chemicals and foreign objects in the eyes which can cause a scratch in the eye, known medically as a corneal abrasion. Other common causes include burns due to exposure of ultraviolet rays or fluids splashed in the eye.
Certain professions present higher risks for contracting eye infections, such as healthcare professionals, custodial staff or people who work in a laboratory. The mucous membranes in the eye are a major source of transmission of an infection. It usually happens when the eyes come in direct contact with blood, when there is touching of the eye with an object or fingers that are contaminated, or through droplets of coughing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) makes it mandatory for organizations to provide the right protective eyewear, face shields, goggles or safety glasses for workers who are at risk for eye injuries. Full face respirators can also assist in reducing the probability of an eye hazard. The right type of eye protection typically depends on the potential hazards, working conditions, vision needs and the type of exposure that the workers are set into.
If you are experiencing an eye emergency, please seek urgent care immediately from a nearby emergency room in order to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment which can prevent further damage.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), educating employers and employees about all types of risks is critical to avoid eye injuries and strain on the eyes in the workplace.
You need protective eye gear if your workplace involves any of the following hazards:
Workplace eye injuries can be very common. The complications that arise from such injuries can lead to temporary or permanent loss of vision. Even though professional medical assistance is needed to treat eye injuries, a quick response in these scenarios can save the eyesight of the injured individual.
Let's look at the most common workplace eye injuries and the best ways to tackle them:
The presence of flying objects, no matter how big or small, are believed to be the leading cause of eye injuries in the workplace. When your work environment consists of sharp glass or metal objects, you risk a scratched eye. If there is a scratch on the cornea, it could take days to heal, and you might need special treatment sessions with an eye doctor.
When you get something in your eye, you should stop and find out what exactly landed in the eye. You should not rub the eye, do not try to take out the object yourself or remove the contact lenses. Foreign bodies should only be removed by an eye doctor. You should be driven to the nearest emergency room to get professional care.
Being engaged in welding poses a threat for flash burns to the eye if you do not make sure to wear the proper protection. Flash burns occur when the eyes are directly exposed to ultraviolet light and it can be extremely painful.
When such a situation has occurred, you should leave the area and call someone for immediate help. It may help to wear sunglasses if you are experiencing sensitivity to light. Seek immediate medical care from an eye doctor or visit a nearby emergency room right away to prevent further harm.
The presence of a foreign particle or body in the eye means that there is an object in the eye that should not be there. It could be a small object or a big one. Whether you have dust, metal shavings or a wood chip, you need medical assistance. In most of the cases, the foreign object is present under the eyelid. If you have a foreign object in the eye, you could have symptoms such as irritation, burning sensation, redness, scratchy feeling or excessive watering of the eye.
If the debris is tiny, then it can be easily removed by repeated rinsing of the eye with fresh water. Do not try to get the object out with force, as you could scratch the cornea and cause more damage. If the debris does not come out after blinking or rinsing the eye, you should get medical help immediately.
Warehouses typically have eyewash stations. If you contract a foreign object in the eye, you should follow the directions of the wash station. Artificial tears or saline water can also be used to get rid of the debris without any force. In any case, you should still see an eye doctor to make sure you do not have any infections or long-lasting impact.
When a harmful substance reaches the eye, you could get a chemical eye burn. If your hands have traces of chemicals on them and you then rub your eyes, you can easily get the chemical in your eye. It could also happen if there is a splash of a hazardous substance in the eye. In such cases, immediate emergency medical care is a necessity, do not hesitate. This will assist in reducing the severity of the damage. If the chemical travels to the bloodstream, it could eventually cause more damage to the body.
For individuals dealing with chemicals, flushing the eye out immediately is highly recommended. The emergency services should be notified and the appropriate amount of care should be taken, as per the instructions made available.
Eye trauma can happen to anyone, anywhere. It usually happens when there is a direct blow to the eye. When using heavy tools or machinery, trauma can easily happen. In some cases, the trauma can even have an impact on the area surrounding the eye.
The best way to deal with the situation is to gently use a shield or protective eyewear to cover the eye. No rinsing or pressure should be applied until emergency services arrive. You need a consultation with a professional who can assess the situation and give you the right kind of treatment. Taking proper care will assure that you have no long term damage to the eye.
Preventive measures can assist you in reducing the probability of an eye injury. The following are some important actions you can take to prevent an eye injury:
There are several types of protective eyewear available today. The ideal equipment depends on the types of daily hazards encountered at the workplace. The following are some of the leading types of eye safety wear currently available:
There are so many various worksite eye emergencies that can take place. Be aware of your surroundings and the potential hazardous risks to your eyes so that you can take the proper precautions to prevent eye injuries and be prepared what to do in case of emergency. If you think you are experiencing an eye emergency, do not delay and go straight to the nearest emergency room for proper diagnosis and safe treatment.