While safety glasses may be a small piece of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), they should not be forgotten. In fact, almost three out of five injured workers were either not wearing eye protection, or not wearing the correct eye protection when they were injured. Take a look at these other staggering statistics:
- Eye injuries make up nearly 45% of all head injuries that lead to missed workdays
- Eye injuries account for an estimated annual $300 million in medical bills, workers’ compensation, and lost production time
- 80% of workplace eye injuries happen to men between the ages of 25-44
- 40% of workplace eye injuries occur in manufacturing, construction, and mining industries
There is a variety of eye protective equipment available in today’s market: safety glasses, goggles, hybrid eyeglasses, face shields, respirators, welding helmets, and more. And while the type of eye protection you wear is important, it’s even more important to always wear protective eyewear.
Eyes are Prone to Workplace Injuries
Like we mentioned above, a large portion of eye injuries occur in industrial industries like manufacturing, construction, and mining, so, as to be expected, the causes of these injuries are industry related.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that around 70% of eye injuries are caused by flying debris and particles hitting the eye, scraping the cornea, or becoming embedded in the eye. It’s easy for a machine or piece of equipment with moving parts to spit out metal slivers, wood chips, and dust. And these objects can easily strike the operator’s eye if they aren’t using any eye protection.
Additionally, flying debris doesn’t just hit the equipment operator, which is why anyone in proximity to heavy machinery should wear protective eye gear.
It’s important to note that when we’re referring to flying debris and particles that encompass 70% of eye injuries, we’re not referencing large objects. When workers with eye injuries were surveyed, the results were shocking; almost three-fifths of the flying debris that injured them were smaller than a pinhead.
However, small debris isn’t the only cause of eye injury. More severe injuries can occur when larger objects like nails or metal pieces penetrate the eye, causing full or partial blindness. Additional eye injury causes include blunt force trauma, chemical burns, thermal burns, and UV radiation burns.
While the common causes of eye injuries may vary from industry to industry, it’s important that you never exclude the possibility, and that you stay prepared by wearing safety glasses at work.
How to Select the Right Protective Eyewear
When it comes to preventing eye injuries, there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution. Rather, your line of work and daily schedule should dictate the type of eye protection you wear. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggests workers ask themselves the following questions when selecting protective eyewear:
- What kind of hazards do I face at work?
- How frequently am I facing these hazards?
- Does my eyewear have to be compatible with any other protective equipment? (ie. face masks)
- Do I wear prescription glasses or need other types of visual aid?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you will be well on your way to selecting the appropriate eyewear.
Customizing Your Protective Eyewear
While your industry or trade might dictate the types of protective eye equipment you use, there are plenty of design choices and comfort levels you can select from to make your eyewear custom to your needs.
There are a variety of design options available in the protective eyewear market. Selections range from colorful frames and lenses to wraparound designs and mirrored lenses. Comfort measures that are available include fog and particle shields and foam surrounds.
Protective eyewear manufacturing companies understand that if the glasses or other protective eyewear is comfortable and stylish, workers will be more likely to wear it. After all, protective eyewear doesn’t prevent injuries unless it’s used appropriately.
Protective Eyewear Training
All new employees (and old ones that need a refresher) need to learn the appropriate ways to manage and wear their protective eyewear. This training should explain to workers:
- When they should wear eye protection
- The consequences of not wearing their eyewear
- Where they can get protective eyewear
- What to do if they don’t have eye protection
This training should also encompass the proper care of eyewear. Dirty and scratched glasses reduce vision and can cause unnecessary glare that can contribute to accidents and injuries.
Learn More About Protective Eyewear
Hopefully, this has been a great introduction to protective eyewear, but there is still plenty more to learn! Ensure that you understand all there is to know about protective eyewear and more with our OSHA Outreach Training Courses. Our courses will educate you on safety best practices and allow you to safely and efficiently do your job!