Every day, an estimated 2,000 workers in North America sustain eye injuries while at work. This figure translates to about $300 million lost each year to medical expenses, lost production time and worker compensation. Most workers do not consider eye protection a crucial component of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). According to safety experts, eye protection could bring about a drastic drop in the number of cases of eye injuries.
Other than workers, another 125,000 people suffer eye injuries while at home and 40,000 children and adults experience eye injuries during sports. Among children in the US, eye injuries are the main cause of blindness. About 100,000 physician visits are made each year, with more than $175 million being spent on these visits.
The above figures are enough to drive home the importance of eye protection, whether at work, at home or in the field. The various forms of eye protection in the market today include face shields, helmets, safety glasses and hybrid eye safety products.
Common eye hazards in different professions
• Projectiles: These include particles such as concrete, dust, metal, wood and other small particles that may enter the eye and cause damage.
• Chemicals: Workers dealing with various chemicals are exposed to the danger of eye injury should these chemicals or fumes enter their eyes. Eye protection is therefore very crucial.
• Radiation: These include UV radiation, visible light, lasers and heat/infrared radiation. Extreme exposure to these radiations could lead to eye injuries.
• Bloodborne pathogens: Various infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eyes. This may occur through blood splashes, touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or respiratory droplets produced by coughing.
Protective Eyewear at Home
The best form of eye protection while working at home are safety glasses. For independent contractors, the best safety glasses are those whose frames and lenses are rated for high impact. These provide the best form of protection.
These safety glasses are available with both prescription and non-prescription lenses. Before buying your safety glasses, visit your optometrist for an eye exam to determine the best lenses for your safety glasses.
Protective Eyewear at Work
Based on the nature of the duties performed, the company’s safety officer will recommend the right level of protection. In most cases, basic impact or high impact safety glasses are recommended for use.
Occupations that require high impact safety glasses include machinists, carpenters, plumbers, laborers, pipe fitters, and millwrights. In other occupations, goggles, side shields or full-face protection are required. Consult the company’s safety officer to determine the best form of eye protection.
Protective Eyewear for Sports
In the case of sport shooting and hunting, safety lenses with high impact rating and an anti-reflective coating are recommended. Fish hooks are known to cause eye injuries. When going fishing, choose a wrap-style frame coupled with safety lenses that feature a polarized tint. This will cut the glare from the water surface.
For paintball lovers, head shields with high impact safety rating are recommended. These offer protection to both the eyes and ears.
Eye protection should be encouraged in youth sports leagues. Both parents and coaches should insist on the use of safety glasses or goggles during matches.
The use of protective eyewear has the potential to bring down the number of cases of eye injuries by up to 90%. This makes it the most logical solution to this problem. It also saves on the huge amount of time and money spent on seeking treatment for eye injuries.