Every day, there are more than 200 eye injuries at work in Canada.
Construction workers have one of the highest eye injury rates.
According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, 90% of these injuries are preventable.
So, what’s wrong? What’s causing so many workplace eye injuries?
Be Proactive – Prevent Eye Injuries At Work
Warren Spires, National Director of the CNIB’s Eye Safety Program, says you have to take a proactive approach to improving eye safety at work.
Here are the 9 most common causes of eye injuries at work:
- Flying objects – bits of metal, nails, glass, stone or wood
- Unsafe handling of tools
- Particles such as sand and sawdust
- Chemical splashes
- Sparks and slag from welding and cutting
- Pipes and wire sticking out of walls
- Objects hanging from ceilings
- Sun and wind
Among those, the most common are sharp objects, metal or nails, according to an August 2012 study by CNIB senior researcher Dr. Keith Gordon in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology.
The Most Serious Eye Injuries Cause Vision Loss
Hammering on metal can send metal slivers flying or something as simple as a rebounding nail are the most serious eye injuries. They can result in vision loss.
“Everyone has to be educated about how to wear the right eye protection for each specific job. Different jobs demand different types of eye protection,” Spires says.
“That means managers, supervisors, workers – everyone on site. People have to be reminded on a day-to-day basis to think eye safety.”
But education has to be effective. On-the-job training and constant supervision really makes the difference, says Spires.
If a senior manager or supervisor comes onto a work site not wearing any eye protection at all because it’s not required, Spires says that undermines any educational safety message workers are given. It shows them that eye safety isn’t important or valuable.
“You have to walk the walk,” Spires says. “Everybody has to be accountable for their eye safety, at work, at play and at home.”
It depends on the situation and all equipment, whether it’s safety glasses, goggles, shields or helmets must be CSA approved and appropriate to the job specifications, he says.
The most common reason workers give for not wearing PPE is“I didn’t think I needed it.”
On a construction site, where the environment can change from minute to minute, workers, especially young workers, have to be shown what Personal Protective Eyewear is demanded – and supervised.
“Humans don’t know what they don’t know,” is a universal truth for Alberta-based safety consultant Alan Quilley of Safety Results.
Eliminate Hazards And Risks At Work
Eye protection is a critical in maintaining your workers eye health. Equally important is eliminating risk factors and hazards and preventing injuries.
Do you have a sound emergency plan in place in case of an accident?
Do you know where your first aid kit is? Or what hospital to call?
What steps are you taking to make ensure your workers eye safety?
Why not leave a comment and share some of your eye safety strategies.