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Protect your eyes while working

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Photo: izusek/iStockphoto

Every day, about 2,000 U.S. workers injure their eyes severely enough to need medical treatment, according to NIOSH. With May being Healthy Vision Month, let’s take a look at how workers can protect their eyes.

Why are workers getting eye injuries?

“Workers experience eye injuries on the job for two major reasons,” the American Optometric Association says. “They were not wearing proper eye protection or they were wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job.”

As a result, eyes can get scraped or struck, penetrated, or burned, NIOSH warns. That’s why it’s important to make sure workers are wearing eye protection, such as goggles, faceshields, safety glasses or a full-face respirator.

“Eye protection should be fit to an individual or adjustable to provide appropriate coverage,” the agency says. “It should be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision.”

Tips for prevention

When it comes to preventing eye injuries in the workplace, NIOSH has the following advice for employers:

  • Ensure engineering controls, such as machine guards and work screens, are used.
  • Conduct a hazard assessment to determine the appropriate type of eyewear for a given task, and then make sure workers have access to the eyewear.

Need help determining what constitutes “appropriate” eyewear? AOA has recommendations:

  • If you’re working in an area that has particles, flying objects or dust: Wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields).
  • If you’re working with chemicals: Wear goggles.
  • If you’re working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers or fiber optics): Wear special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, faceshields or helmets designed for that task.

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