It’s Workplace Eye Wellness Month and a great excuse to focus on a significant problem: Each day, 2,000 Americans sustain work-related eye injuries that require medical intervention. Beyond that, nearly 1 million Americans have experienced some type of vision loss due to eye injuries, resulting in more than $300 million in medical expenses, lost work time, and workmen’s compensation.
Many eye injuries could be prevented through the use of proper eyewear. OSHA requires employers to provide eye protection to workers who are exposed to the following hazards:
- Flying particles
- Liquid chemicals
- Acids and caustic liquids
- Molten metal
- Chemical gases and vapors
- Dangerous light radiation
Types of Eye Protection
The most common types of eye protection in industrial settings include safety glasses, safety goggles, face shields, and welding helmets.
Safety glasses protect workers’ eyes from flying particles. Some safety glasses look like regular eyeglasses while other types may include side protection. They are available with prescription lenses, and some safety glasses have shading as additional protection against the bright rays of the sun.
Safety goggles offer more thorough eye protection than safety glasses because they are sealed against the face. They can guard against liquid chemicals, caustic liquids, and other substances that could splash into the eyes. Safety goggles may be ventilated or non-ventilated. Non-ventilated goggles are recommended when dangerous substances are present in the work environment.
Face shields cover the eyes and the entire face for higher impact protection. They should be worn in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles.
Workers who do welding jobs are exposed to light radiation and should wear helmets. OSHA has charts showing the levels of protection required for each type of work
Workers must be familiar with the type of eye protection their job requires. They should ensure that their eye protection devices fit properly and are regularly cleaned so that they do not carry infection.