As many as 2,000 people a day injure their eyes while on the job. One out of 10 end up missing at least one day of work while recovering. Of the total number of work-related eye injuries, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says 10 to 20 percent will result in temporary or permanent vision loss. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workplace eye injuries cost about $300 million a year in lost productivity, medical treatment, and worker compensation pay-outs. And the AAO adds that proper eye protection could lessen the severity of, or even prevent, nine out of 10 (90 percent) of accidental workplace eye injuries. This is why during Workplace Wellness Month (March), Friends for Sight (FoS) – an advocacy group to lessen eye accidents – reminds everyone that workplace eye safety actions are easy to incorporate and invaluable in order to maintain long-term vision health. Most workplace eye injuries occur because of small particle abrasions to the eye or foreign chemical splashes. Objects such as metal or wood, irritations from UV rays or radiation burns, and liquid solvents can irritate or injure the eyes. But another workplace hazard to our eyes comes from a relatively unexpected source. A recent survey found that merely working at a computer caused 14 percent of workers to report eye problems. This number has no place to go but up, due to the fact that our jobs and daily activities are increasingly linked to computer screens – from PCs to laptops to smartphones and pad devices. Eyesight can be compromised in so many ways that the consequences of not practicing eye safety are directly leading to more Americans losing their vision or having it seriously compromised.
Ways to Avoid Eye Injuries While On the JobWatch out for eye dangers. Common causes of workplace eye injuries are:
- Flying objects (especially small bits of metal, glass or other residue from grinding)
- Improper use of tools
- Combinations of these or other foreign object hazards.
- Know all the eye safety dangers you could encounter at work.
- Eliminate these hazards before you perform any task that could pose danger to your eyes by taking advantage of machine guards, screens or other machinery safety controls.
- Always wear proper eye protection whenever there is any chance of eye injury. Those who pass close to your work area should also wear protective eyewear. This is particularly true of workers involved in welding, among those at highest job-related risks for eye injury.