National Safe Work Month
October is National Safe Work Month and we want to talk about eye health at work so you can learn more about common causes of eye injury, eye safety tips, correct eye protection and how to handle an eye emergency.
One of the most common risks of injury at work if you are in the trades is from eye injuries. About 95 per cent of eye injuries treated in Australian hospitals are a result of carelessness and lack of attention to basic eye safety precautions. The vast majority of eye injuries can be avoided by taking a common sense approach to hazardous activities. You should wear eye protection during all potential hazardous tasks around the work place, even if you are just lending a hand. There’s a lot more to eye protection than just putting on a pair of safety glasses. There are numerous products available in the market that claim eye safety, but the trick is using the most appropriate safety eyewear for the particular task. By having a good understanding of the different kinds of eye protection, you can make an informed choice and find the solution that is best for you.
Common Causes of Eye Injury
- Impact: flying particles or falling objects such as plastic pieces or metal flakes can hit your eye and result in puncture, scratch or bruise
- Dust: sanding or woodwork can cause dust and grit to fly into your eye, resulting in irritation and scratches
- Chemical: harmful chemical vapours, mists and fumes, or liquid chemicals splashing into your eyes, can burn the surface of your eye
- Heat: exposure to high temperatures, molten metal, or hot sparks poses a potential burn hazard
- Visible Radiation: unprotected exposure to an intense light source such as laser can result in retinal burns and permanent loss of vision
- Ultraviolet (invisible) Radiation: sources of UV radiation such as welding arc can cause burns to the cornea and conjunctiva, cataracts and retinal damage
Eye Safety Tips
- Always use appropriate eye protection when performing hazardous tasks
- Ordinary spectacles worn in place of proper eye protection are a hazard in the workplace
- Use water sprays for dampening dusty areas
- Reduce dust being raised by air turbulence with wind breaks
- Eliminate possible eye hazards. Find a safe way to perform the task.
- Control potential hazards by surrounding the process or limiting access
- Wear appropriate eye protection
- Always wear eye protection when sawing, hammering, grinding or cutting
- Ensure there are suitable screens or guards to shield from flying fragments, particles or radiation
- Use catchments, splash guards and baffles to confine dangerous liquids
- Extract dust, gases or fumes with exhaust hoods or booths
- Display safety signs and notices in work areas where eye protection is needed
- Review your workplace eye safety procedures regularly
Correct Eye Protection
Different work situations require specific types of protective eyewear. The main types are safety glasses, safety goggles and face shields. Quality products will be anti-fogging to ensure comfortable trouble free wear.
- Safety Glasses: Similar to regular spectacles but with adequate coverage and side shields, and may be prescription. The lenses are impact and chemical resistant. Available in photochromatic for indoor/outdoor mix.
- Safety Goggles: Goggles fit snugly around your eyes and offer extra protection from intruding dust and particles
- Shields: May cover just the eyes or the whole face. May be attached to hard hats. Available with special filters to provide extra protection for welders or laser work
How to Handle an Eye Emergency
- Do not rub the eye
- In the case of cuts, punctures or embedded objects, do not wash the eye or try to remove objects
- In the event of chemical burns, splash or dust in the eye: flush copiously with cold water for at least 10-15 minutes
- IF AN EYE INJURY OCCURS SEE AN OPTOMETRIST as soon as possible or go to your nearest emergency department. The full extent of the damage is not always apparent and even seemingly minor injury may cause permanent eye and vision damage if it is not treated immediately.
The optometrists at Envision Optical have undergone post-graduate training in managing traumatic eye injuries. Emergency appointments are available daily. On-site workplace eye safety assessments are available on request via firstname.lastname@example.org