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Eye Consultants of Colorado

(303) 838-9165

Workplace Safety


Did you know that in the U.S. about 2,000 workplace eye injuries occur every day? Almost 70% of accidents happen because of flying or falling objects. And would you believe, most of the objects are smaller than the head of a pin!

Most workplace eye injuries occur where safety eyewear isn’t required, or left up to the individual to decide if they’ll wear it. Many of those injured on the job didn’t think they needed to wear safety glasses or protective gear, or were wearing eyewear that didn’t provide adequate protection. Many of these injuries could have been prevented if the individual had just worn some sort of protective eye wear. A general rule is if your subconscious says “I should be careful,” then you should probably be looking for some type of eye protection.

An on-the-job (or an at home) eye injury can cause lasting and permanent vision damage, potentially disabling a person for life. Even “minor” eye injuries can cause long-term vision problems and suffering, such as recurrent and painful corneal erosion from a simple scratch from sawdust, cement, or drywall. However, an estimated 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented using proper protective eyewear, per OSHA. Don’t become an eye injury statistic! Follow the eye safety rules to protect your vision

What can do Harm?

  • Chemicals. This may include both splashes or fumes
  • Projectiles: Dust, wood, metal, materials that can lodge in the eye or on the surface.
  • Radiation: UV, infrared or heat, and lasers.
  • Exposure: Computer Vision Syndrome, though may not be outright trauma can do just as much to affect workplace visual function. It is a group of eye and vision related problems that results from prolonged digital device use.

How can I Prevent and Protect?

There are four key things you can do to protect or prevent eye injuries.

  • Know the eye safety hazards at work
  • Eliminate as many of those hazards as possible
  • Use proper eye protection
  • Replace any safety eye wear that becomes scratches or damaged.

What do I look for in safety eyewear?

The type of safety eye protection you should wear depends largely upon the hazards in your workplace.

  • Nonprescription and prescription safety glasses. Although safety glasses may look like normal dress eyewear, they are designed to provide significantly more eye protection. The lenses and frames are much stronger than regular eyeglasses. Safety glasses must meet standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Look for the Z87 mark on the lens or frame. Side shields and wraparound-style safety glasses can provide additional side protection in environments with flying particles. Safety lenses are available in plastic, polycarbonate and Trivex™ materials. Make note: this does not mean side shields on your “everyday” glasses.
  • Goggles. Goggles provide protection from impact, dust, and chemical splash. Like safety glasses, safety goggles are highly impact-resistant. In addition, they provide a secure shield around the entire eye and protect against hazards coming from any direction. Goggles can usually be worn over prescription glasses and contact lenses.
  • Face shields and helmets. Full face shields protect workers exposed to chemicals, heat, or blood-borne pathogens. Face shields and helmets are often used in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles, so the eyes are protected when the shield is lifted.
  • Special protection. Helmets or goggles with special filters to protect the eyes from optical radiation exposure should be used for welding or working with lasers.

What if you get an injury?

In most instances (except for chemical splashes-see below) you should immediate seek medical attention. The longer a forging substance is in contact with the eye surface the more damage is typically done and the more difficult the treatment and the longer the recovery.

First aid for chemicals in the eye:

Immediately flush the eye with water for at least 15 minutes. Place the eye under a faucet or shower, use a garden hose, or pour water into the eye from a clean container. If you are wearing contact lenses, immediately remove them before flushing the eye. Do not try to neutralize the chemical with other substances. THEN seek immediate medical attention.

First aid for particles in the eye:

Do not rub the eye. Irrigate the eye with an artificial tear solution or water. DO not use any other type of fluid. Some particles, particularly metallic ones, can cause rusting spots on the eye if left untreated for several days. If you are unsure if the object is gone, do not delay medical care.

First aid for blows to the eye:

Gently apply a cold compress without putting pressure on the eye. Crushed ice in a plastic bag can be placed gently on the injured eye to reduce pain and swelling.

First aid for cuts and punctures to the eye or eyelid:

Do not wash out the eye. Do not attempt to remove an object that is stuck in the eye. Seek immediate medical care.