Potential Eye Hazards in the Workplace
Eye and face protection may be more important than you realize. Occupational jobs come with different types of hazards employees may not be aware of.
Employees should always follow the OSHA eye protection standards when they are working in these conditions.
- Projectiles aren’t always visible. Dust from concrete, metal, and wood can easily get into employees’ eyes. Larger particles can cause even more severe damage, including to the face.
- Chemicals always pose a hazard to the eyes and face. Fumes can result in permanent eye damage, and burns from chemicals can leave scarring on the face. Chemical splashes can also leave employees with vision problems and blindness.
- Radiation is another eye and face hazard. Laser, infrared, heat, and ultraviolet light can all damage the eyes.
- Bloodborne pathogens are a concern with areas with exposed mucus membranes, like the eyes, nose, and mouth. Blood and other bodily fluids can easily enter these areas upon contact, passing on diseases like Hepatitis and HIV.
An often overlooked eye hazard is digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome. It refers to several types of eye problems that can occur from extended exposure to the glare from a cell phone, tablet, computer, and other electronic devices.
How to Practice Proper Eye and Face safety in the Workplace
Following OSHA rules on PPE is the best way to prevent eye and face injuries. Doing four things can minimize any workplace hazards and keep employees’ eyes and face safe from injury.
1. Know What the Hazards Are at Work : Pay attention to the equipment and materials used in your industry. Is there a risk for dust, shards, or other particles? You also want to consider chemicals—fumes and liquids pose a threat to everyone in the workplace.
2. Eliminate Potential Threats: Eliminating hazards is the best way to prevent eye injuries, and it’s a cost-effective preventative measure. Machine guards can stop small metal shards and other particles from reaching employees. Work screens are another option, as long as the holes are small enough to block particles from getting through.
3. Follow OSHA Eye Protect Standards : Regular glasses and contact lenses are not OSHA-approved protective eyewear. Eye protection by OSHA safety training standards requires all eyewear to meet the requirements of the American National Standards Institute. You’ll know if the glasses are approved if you see a Z87 stamp on the frame or lens.
4. Replace Any Damaged PPE Equipment : Damaged eyeglasses and face shields will not provide adequate protection. The same is also true if the PPE is dirty. Keeping your protective gear clean is crucial, along with replacing any damaged equipment.
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