March is “Save Your Vision Month,” which hones in on the importance of healthy vision and ways we can protect our eyesight. Along with regular eye exams and other eye safety precautions in our day-to-day lives, safeguarding our eyesight also extends to our work environment. From daily digital device use in the office to chemical, environmental, radiological and/or mechanical eye irritants and hazards, eye safety is critical to preventing work-related eye injuries—ranging from simple eye strain to severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, vision loss, or blindness.
Understanding Protective Eyewear & Potential Eye Hazards in the Workplace:
Eye injuries in the workplace are actually quite common, with roughly 2,000 U.S. workers sustaining job-related eye injuries on any given day (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). Not surprisingly, one of the most important methods of protecting your vision at work is to always wear appropriate protective eyewear, which can lessen the severity or even prevent more than 90 percent of these eye injuries.
Protective eyewear—including safety goggles and glasses, face shields, or full face respirators—should always be utilized when an eye hazard exists. The necessary eye protection depends on the hazards in your workplace and should be compliant with OSHA regulations for eye and face protection. According to OSHA, eye protection is needed when the following potential eye hazards are present:
- Impact (flying objects, fragments, large chips, and particles.)
- Calls for use of safety glasses WITH side shields or safety goggles (primary protectors); may require the use of face shields (secondary protectors) in conjunction with safety goggles or glasses during severe exposure to impact hazards
- Learn more at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/eyeandface/ppe/impact.html
- Chemicals (splashes, mists, vapors and fumes from hazardous substances)
- Calls for use of safety goggles (primary protector) and face shields (secondary protector) when exposed to severe chemical hazards
- When working with or around chemicals, it also is important to know the location of emergency eyewash stations and how to access them with restricted vision
- Learn more at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/eyeandface/ppe/chemicals.html
- Heat (high temperatures, splashes of molten metal, or hot sparks)
- Calls for use of safety glasses or goggles WITH special-purpose lenses and side shields (primary protectors); many heat hazard exposures require the use of a heat-reflective face shields (secondary protectors) in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles
- Learn more at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/eyeandface/ppe/heat.html
- Dust (during operations such as woodworking and buffing)
- Calls for use of safety goggles
- Learn more at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/eyeandface/ppe/dust.html
- Optical Radiation(laser work and similar operations that create intense concentrations of heat, ultraviolet, infrared, and reflected light radiation)
- Calls for use of special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that task
- Learn more at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/eyeandface/ppe/light_radiation.html
- Bloodborne pathogens(hepatitis or HIV) splashes, sprays, splatters, or droplets of blood and/or bodily fluids
- Calls for use of surgical masks in conjunction with eye protection (i.e., safety goggles or glasses with solid side shields) or chin-length face shields
- Learn more at OSHA Facts Sheet – PPE Reduces Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens
Be sure to educate yourself on other forms of PPE mandated when exposed to these potential hazards. Also be sure your protective eyewear is OSHA-compliant and has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to meet their eye protection standards. If an eye injury does occurs, see an ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately, even if the eye injury appears minor. Delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
Protecting Your Vision This March & Beyond:
Along with cognizance of potential eye hazards in the workplace and utilizing appropriate protective eyewear, it is important, when possible, to eliminate hazards before starting work. This can be done by utilizing machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls when applicable. Outside of the workplace, don’t forget to schedule regular eye examines with an eye doctor, as well as wearing sunglasses while exposed to the sun.
Of all God’s gifts, the ability to see is one of the most precious. It is the sense of sight that saves mankind from living in darkness. It is the sense of sight that permits individuals to communicate with each other and to future generations through literature and art. It enables man to enjoy the magnificence of a sunset and the promise of a rainbow.
Unfortunately, sight is often taken for granted. Few realize how many of our citizens lose their sight every year. Yet many forms of blindness can be cured if discovered soon enough, and many blinded by accident could have kept their sight had they taken only minor eye safety precautions.
Each of us has the responsibility to care for that which is ours. Our eyesight and the eyesight of our children should be paramount on the list of personal responsibilities. Money cannot but it, but a check-up and early care can preserve it.
Amerisource: Your Single Source for Protective Eyewear & More!
Amerisource is proud to be a single source for all of your protective eyewear requirements, including safety goggles, safety glasses (tinted and clear), face shields, full face respirators and more! Contact your local Amerisource representative for more information, or shop online at www.aisorder.com.