The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there are 15,000 welding equipment eye injuries annually. Power tools, such as drills, grinders, and saws, contribute an additional 10,000.
It is estimated that there are more than 700,000 work-related eye injuries in the US each year. Nearly 1 million Americas have already lost some degree of sight due to an injury to their eye(s). No doubt each of us either knows of someone who has suffered an eye injury or has had an one ourselves.
Eye injury prevention takes a little planning and thinking ahead. A great incentive is knowing that 90% of all workplace eye injuries are preventable with the use of proper eyewear. The planning ahead starts at the project planning stage, continues through the JHA/Prejob brief, and carries onward through each change of task. With a little attention, some forethought, and working together this is a trend we can stop.
The following are tips to prevent eye injuries:
Assess the task and environment
Look carefully at the task and site operations. Inspect work areas, before beginning the job. Look for potential issues that if left unresolved could become an injury or could create a loss.
Test the fit
When you put on your safety glasses, ensure they fit correctly and are appropriate for the task at hand. The lens should be clean, free of pits and scratches with no cloudy areas, and if there is a chance the lenses could fog up, they should be wiped with an anti-fog solution.
Know the protection rating
Ensure that the protective eyewear is designed for the specific task. All safety glasses should be ANSI Z-87 rated. The Z-87 stamp should be on every component of the safety glasses.
Plan for an emergency
Ensure that eyewash stations are accessible, eye-wash solution is within date, and that everyone knows where they are located and how to use them if needed.
Everyone can be a leader! Wear your safety glasses and never walk by someone who should be wearing theirs without reminding them to protect their eyes. Continually review the importance of wearing safety glasses in pre-shift, safety meetings and JHA/Preshift briefings. Remind people that our rules require the use of safety glasses and the choice not to wear safety glasses could cost them something much more important than their job.