Each year there are thousands of people who fall victim to some form of eye injury while at work with building/construction industries being those most at risk due to the tools and materials used. Even the most minor injury, such as a scratch from a piece of sawdust, can cause lifelong vision problems which could have been easily avoided had a pair of safety glasses or goggles been worn.
So when should you be wearing a pair of safety glasses at work? Well before any work is carried out you first need to evaluate the safety precautions needed on site.
What hazards are on site?
Look at the tools and materials at your disposal and begin to analyse each one with a worst case scenario frame of mind.
- Are you or your colleagues are using metal tools which grind against other metals, wood or other resources, could they cause sparks or particles of debris that could land in a worker’s eyes?
- Are you using any chemicals that could cause serious injury if some gets in a worker’s eye?
- Is your work area particularly windy which could lead to dangerous pieces of debris being blown around your work area?
- Are you handing any powered or dry materials that can cause a chemical burn when in contact with your eyes?
- Do you use any tools which use a flame or result in ultraviolet, infrared or any other type of radiation? (a hazard primarily for welders or those working in close proximity.)
What eye protection should be worn?
Should you have answered yes to any of the questions posed above then eye protection must be worn at all times. However the type of eye protection you need to wear will depend on the potential hazardous risks you will experience at your place of work.
- If you are in a work place that has high amount of flying debris such as dust, particles of materials or any other items which can cause an eye injury then the minimum level of eye safety required are safety goggles with protective side shields.
- If you work in an industry that can expose your eyes to injury from chemicals then you should be wearing safety googles at all times as the minimum level of safety required.
- If you are exposed to heat or any form of radiation outlined above you should look to wear specialist glasses, face masks and shields which will be outlined as minimum safety requirements depending on the industry you work in. As added protection any safety eyewear worn to prevent exposure to heat radiation and visible light should include shades lenses with the amount of shading dependant on the amount of light and radiation exposure.
How to be proactive
While it’s important to wear the required safety glasses and eye protection when working in hazardous environments that offer a range of potential eye injuries, it’s equally important to try and minimise the potential of eye injuries to your workers and those nearby by placing a range of safety measures in place prior to work beings carried out.
- Place hazardous jobs which result in flying debris away from areas of high activity and high population. The less people in the area, the lesser the likelihood of someone damaging their eye from projectiles.
- Ensure all machinery has the most up to date guard protectors which are going to minimise the amount of escaping projectiles or exposure to arc flashes.
- Check all safety glasses and other eye protection on a regular basis to ensure they are of the required safety standard. Over time, safety glasses can develop gaps in the corners which can leave enough space for particles to get through. Should this occur they need to be replaced to ensure the highest levels of safety.
One of the biggest reasons why people injured in the work place weren’t wearing their safety glasses is simply because they didn't think they needed to wear then. Educating employees as to when they need to wear their safety eyewear can go a long way in helping to significantly reduce the number of eye injuries which will occur within your place of work.