Eye safety in the workplace should always be a priority because sight is an important sense. You also spend a lot of time at work, so it’s just right to keep your eyes protected at all times. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world suffer from work-related eye injuries. One thing that could help avoid these incidents at work is for employers to raise awareness about eye wellness.
Get tips on how to promote eye safety and wellness in the workplace from a local optometrist.
What Are Your Eyes at Risk of at Work?
Eye injuries do not just happen while you are outside or performing physically-demanding tasks, such as landscaping, engineering, and other construction work. No matter what your job is, you can still be exposed to different eye risks. Even if you are mostly in front of the computer throughout the day, eye injuries can still happen, so you must be careful with your eyes.
Chemical and Ultraviolet Light
Among the most common work-related eye injuries are cuts or punctures to the eye, eye damage due to bright ultraviolet light exposure, and chemical burns. Those whose work involves handling chemicals and exposure to bright lights or UV light are at high-risk for eye injuries.
Blue light is a common eye hazard in offices or corporate workplaces. At least 60 percent of people dedicate more than six hours of their day in front of digital devices that utilize LED backlight technology. The most common digital devices used in the workplace include computers, tablets, flat-screen television, and cell phones.
This kind of light comes with perks, such as improving your mood increasing alertness. However, extended exposure to blue light can lead to digital eye strain, one of the most common computer-related eye issues in workers. The usual symptoms of digital eye strain include blurred vision, dry eye, double vision, eye itching, headache, and pain in the neck and/or shoulders.
Tiny Flying Objects
Wood chips, cement chips, metal slivers, and small flying particles can irritate your eyes and even penetrate delicate tissues. By wearing proper protective eyewear, you can prevent these particles from getting into your eyes and causing injury.
Among the common causes of workplace eye burn injuries include x-rays, ultraviolet radiation from tanning lamps, electric sparks, and welding arcs. The damage to your eyes may be gradual or develop within a few days depending on the cause and the amount of exposure.
People who use ovens, welding equipment, or industrial materials are at risk of thermal burns. When extremely hot debris or gases penetrate the eye, it can result in severe injuries and complete vision loss.
Exposure to Virus
Those working in the medical field are at higher risk of developing workplace eye infections through ocular exposure to diseases. Infectious diseases and viruses can transmit via direct exposure to respiratory droplets or blood. You may also get it when you touch your face or ice with contaminated hands.
How Can Employers Improve Eye Safety at Work?
Get Rid of Possible Hazards
There are different ways to reduce the potential eye hazards from your workplace. You should isolate high-risk equipment and maintain them properly. If possible, choose safer alternatives to toxic chemicals and high-risk equipment. Make sure that is enough ventilation and humidification for dusty environments. Also, all workplace equipment operators should follow the manufacturer’s specifications and safety guidelines.
Provide Workers With Proper Eye Protection
To make your workplace as safe as possible, provide eye protection that is suitable to the tasks of your employees. Employers are responsible for researching the ideal protective gear for their workers. It’s essential to know which jobs need low, medium, and high-impact protective eyewear.
Tasks involving chipping, hammering a strap under tension, and riveting require low-impact protection. The eyewear necessary for these jobs may include eyecup goggles, safety glasses, and face shields. Medium-impact protection may be needed for tasks like wire handling, grinding metals, brick cutting, and scaling. Those who handle chemicals and use explosive power tools and nail guns need high-impact protection, such as face shields and filters. Keep in mind that eyewear such as prescription glass, contact lenses, and sunglasses do not provide enough protection. They are not considered as proper safety wear in the workplace.
Increase Awareness About Workplace Eye Safety
Aside from providing workers with property safety eyewear, you should also let them know about the dangers of not wearing them. Supervisors should conduct regular training sessions focusing on eye safety for workers. They should also organize regular eye hazard assessment for workers to determine how well they know about
You can also improve eye safety awareness by putting up posters around your workplace. Place “Wear Proper Eye Protection” signs in parts of the workplace where necessary. Another thing you can do is to add tips about eye safety in your company newsletters. Also, encourage workers to see their eye doctor regularly so they can keep track of their eye health.
Always Have a First Aid Kit Ready
You don’t know when an accident can happen in your workplace so make sure to have a complete first aid kit available at all times. Include eyewash and eye drops in your kit as they help in minor irritation caused by dirt or grit. However, it may be necessary to use an emergency eyewash station if the basic eye rinse is not sufficient or if the eyes were exposed to chemicals or acids.
What Can Employees Do?
Avoid Digital Eye Strain
To avoid digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome, practice proper seating posture and reposition your screen. Your computer screen must be at least 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little below eye level. Make sure to place your screen away from a direct light source to eliminate harsh glare. Your desk chair must be at the right height to keep you from hunching over.
You can follow the 20-20-20 rule, where you take a break from looking at your screen every 20 minutes and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. One thing that people tend to forget to do when working on their computer is to blink. Blinking helps in keeping your eyes moist, lubricated, and nourished.
Visit Your Eye Doctor Regularly
Whether you require vision correction or not, it’s still a good idea to visit your optometrist or eye doctor regularly. Routine eye exams can help detect and treat issues with your vision while they are small. It will also help you ensure that you are wearing the right prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Get Rid of Damaged Protective Eyewear
You use your eyewear regularly, and it may be facing harsh conditions every day. Your safety glasses or goggles may get cracks or scratches, or they may even break. Damage to your eyewear may affect its visibility or compromise its ability to protect your eyes.
You can keep your eyewear in good shape by cleaning it regularly, hanging it up after use, and not leaving it in areas where it is at risk of breaking. Your protective eyewear can only do its job if it is clean and free from scratches. Experts recommend using anti-scratch eyewear in workplaces with dusty environments.