Even though eye trauma is one of the most common work injuries, it is also one of the most preventable. From hazardous chemicals, impacts from objects, or even infectious diseases, protecting your eyesight needs to be a top priority.
Even though individuals of every age are susceptible to eye trauma, certain situations and work environments can increase the likelihood of injury. Luckily, there are several great ways to protect your eyesight while avoiding significant eye trauma.
Read on to learn everything you need to know on how to prevent eye trauma in the workplace.
How Does Work-Related Eye Trauma Occur?
Every work environment is unique and has different potential eye hazards. While some industries have a lower risk of eye incidents, others, like construction sites and factories, pose an increased risk.
See some examples of irritants that may lead to eye injury below:
- UV exposure
- Thermal burns
Outside of particles and objects potentially causing problems, infectious blood and respiratory droplets should also be avoided. That’s because eyes have permeable mucous membranes that are vulnerable to pathogens. Eye protection helps to protect against this transmission. Here’s some advice from the CDC on eye safety.
Steps to Prevent Eye Trauma in the Workplace
- Take Preventative Measures
Did you know that only 35% of individuals surveyed said they regularly wear protective eyewear during high-risk activities, like contact sports and home repairs? This statistic highlights a large group of people at risk for potential eye trauma. While accidents occur nearly everywhere, it’s important to decrease risks.
One of the easiest things you can do to avoid eye injuries is to wear protective eyewear, like goggles, visors, and other sturdy eye protection. By taking this step, you reduce your chances of eye trauma by a resounding 90%.
Even if your company doesn’t require you to wear protective eyewear, you have several options available to you:
- Face shields
- Full face respirators
- Safety glasses
Taking certain precautions doesn’t end with only using eye protection. In fact, one way to reduce possible eye trauma is to eliminate or reorganize potential hazards. For example, double-check all chemicals are safely stored, objects aren’t hanging at eye level, and indicate work areas with clear signage.
By taking extra safety precautions now, you will hopefully avoid problems down the road.
- Install Emergency Eyewash Stations
While there are some exceptions to using an eyewash station, this device can make a positive impact. Make sure to place it in an easy-to-access location with nothing in front of it. Communicate and train workers on how to use the eyewash and some basic first aid procedures to help reduce the severity of any eye injury.
When using an eyewash station, follow the steps below:
- Immediately seek out the eyewash station if you’ve been exposed to harmful chemicals or debris
- Begin to flush your eyes
- Flush your eyes for a full fifteen minutes
- Make sure to keep your eyes fully opened and rolling the entire time
- Remove any contacts and assess the situation
- Seek medical help as soon as possible
While eyewash stations flush toxins out of the eye area, you’ll need additional items to treat any surrounding injured skin. Therefore it’s imperative to keep the first-aid container close by and make sure it’s stocked with gauze, eye drops, and other essential supplies.
3. Regularly Inspect Eyewear and Equipment
Any eyewear that has scratches, loose frames, or any other noticeable signs of wear and tear needs to be repaired or replaced immediately. When it comes to correctly using eye protection, workers need options that are also comfortable to wear for long shifts. One great way to avoid potential eye issues is by companies offering services to fit employees with the correct eyewear and properly repairing broken ones. This practice helps to mitigate and significantly lower the risk of eye trauma.
Remember only to use high-quality and job-specific eyewear, as outlined in safety guidelines. When in doubt, refer to the OSHA regulations for clarity.
4. Avoid Risky Behavior
Employers should regularly conduct hazard assessments to help determine appropriate protective eyewear for each high-risk role. Communicate with employers to address concerns, risky situations, and inquire about solutions. Regularly inspecting equipment, access routes, and all other plant operations helps you identify areas with eye hazards. Talk to your employer or supervisor to ensure these issues get addressed.
One of the best ways to encourage others to wear protective eyewear is to lead by example. This is especially essential for managers and supervisors. By supporting and instructing team members on the importance of wearing protective eyewear and understanding the seriousness of potential eye trauma, accidents can hopefully be avoided.
5. Identify Signs of Potential Injury
Identifying eye injuries is essential to decide whether or not emergency eye care services are needed. While not all eye irritants will lead to severe problems, it’s crucial to notice warning signs and take appropriate safety measures.
Look over these eye injury signs listed below:
- Blurry vision
- Visible blood
- Unusual pupil size
- One protruding eye
- Prolonged eye pain
- Cuts or tears around the eye socket
- Item trapped under eyelid
While lacerations and blood are noticeable signs of injury, others, like detached retinas and increased eye pressure, are not always obvious. For this reason, it’s important to still follow up with an optometrist to avoid potentially severe consequences, like vision loss or blindness.
Preventing glass, metal, plastic, and any other artificial object from entering your eye is vital to avoiding injuries. These objects prolong irritation and can continue to tear your eye, especially if they cannot be removed by tears or blinking.
Recognize the warning signs of eye emergencies and seek medical assistance right away.
6. Schedule Regular Eye Exams
Maintaining healthy vision is an essential part of life. When you work in potentially high-risk eye injury areas, it’s vital to take preventative measures and regularly get your vision tested. Schedule comprehensive eye exams once a year with a skilled optometrist to scan for any lingering or occupational diseases from eye injuries. The sooner you address any concerns, the less likely the eye will develop into severe eye trauma. Ask your employer about company practices and vision health benefits to see what’s available to you. If you’ve never had an eye exam before, here’s what you can expect.
Maintaining Healthy Eyesight
One of the best things you can do to maintain lifelong healthy vision is to protect your eyes. If you’re working in hazardous environments, it’s imperative to take actionable steps to prevent eye trauma in the workplace. While adding protective eyewear is the best way to reduce eye injuries, you can also add additional preventative measures like installing eyewash stations, scheduling regular eye exams, and regularly inspecting equipment.
If you need urgent eye care services, seek out the trusted doctors at Art of Optiks to promptly address eye injuries.