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- The most common eye injuries
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No matter how much experience professionals have within an industry, various hazards can occur if you don’t have the proper eye protection for construction workers. With about 700 eye injuries happening each day in Canada and more than 1,000 each day in United States workplaces, hazards vary in severity and how they occur — calling for different strategies of protection.
To safeguard your employees from severe dangers, assess your company through the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety — CCOHS — to determine the risk of exposure to eye hazards. From there, you can prepare to protect your workers against the highest level of each danger.
Eye injuries make up 45 percent of head injuries where people miss work, so it’s imperative to be ready at all times to help prevent any hazards.
The Most Common Eye Injuries
Workplace injuries can happen anytime and when you least expect it. Even if you performed all the right procedures and took precautions, hazards can occur because of a malfunctioning machine or dozens of other reasons. The most common eye injuries include impact, dust, chemicals, heat and optical radiation.
Forceful impacts to your eyes can come from flying objects such as debris, fragments, chips, tools, particles, dirt and sand, and can result from tasks such as:
- Powered fastening
Even if an object or spark is small, it can cause serious damage. Your eyes can receive contusions, abrasions and punctures, which can lead to more severe injuries. CCOHS directs workers to wear protective eyewear, such as safety goggles with side shields while working in hazardous areas. Other devices include face shields for more impact-pertinent exposure.
When you experience an impact to your eyes from debris or dirt, it’s imperative not to remove anything embedded in your eye. Wait for medical personnel to arrive, because you can cause more damage if you remove something incorrectly. Do not rinse your eyes with water, and don’t apply pressure. Instead, cover your eye with a cloth until medics arrive. If your employee has an eye injury as a result of a powerful impact, avoid giving them anti-inflammatory drugs, because the pills may thin their blood and increase bleeding.
If you receive an impact from a tool where nothing is in your eye, apply ice to relieve the pain and decrease swelling. However, do not apply pressure.
Dust is tricky to avoid at any construction site, as it’s prevalent in operations like digging, buffing and woodworking. Dusty environments are prone to eye injuries and are hazardous to people who wear contact lenses. To avoid getting dust and other particles in your eyes, wear eyecups or safety goggles. Compared to safety glasses, goggles create a protective seal around your eyes from tiny elements. Workers should maintain and clean their goggles regularly because dust can stick to the eyewear and make it difficult to see.
In the case where dust contaminates your eyes and makes them itch, remember not to rub them! As an alternative, lift your upper eyelid over the lashes of your bottom lid and blink several times. The tears will flush out the dust particles as a natural remedy. If the dust remains and is still irritating, call for medical treatment.
Damage from chemicals is one of the more dangerous eye hazards for construction industry workers. When your eyes have direct contact with chemicals and fumes, injuries are often irreversible and can lead to partial loss of sight or blindness.
Chemical wounds can occur in the form of splashes, vapors, fumes or mists in your work environment. In the case where an employee suffers from a chemical eye injury, they must know the location of the emergency eyewash station and how to access it. When chemicals splash into your eye, hold your eye open with your index finger and thumb instead of squeezing your eyes shut. Use the eyewash stations to flush out your eyes with cold, clean water for about 15 minutes. Then, seek immediate medical attention.
If you wear personal protective equipment, you can prevent the chemical substance from entering your eyes or other areas around your face.
Working in the construction industry often requires you to be around high temperatures. Exposure to extreme levels of heat can result in burns from splashes of metal or molten or from hot sparks. Workplaces where heat injuries to eyes occur most often involve the following:
- Furnace operations
- Hot dipping
Are you exposed to heat hazards on a daily basis? If so, it’s vital for you to wear goggles with side and special-purpose lenses. For more severe operations, you may need to wear a face shield in addition to other eyewear pieces. Consider the source and intensity of the heat, as well as the type of splashes within your workplace, to help you determine which personal protective equipment is necessary.
If you receive a burn from heat, apply ice and call a medical team for further analysis and care.
Laser work and similar operations can be the cause of optical radiation damage to your eyes. High concentrations of heat, as well as UV, reflected and infrared light radiation, are potential eye hazards. For the best eye protection, determine the maximum power density the lasers produce when workers are near the laser beams. Then, select the appropriate lenses that protect them against the maximum intensity. Unprotected exposure to lasers can result in cataracts, retinal burns or blindness.
In some cases, it’s even essential to protect your employees against sunlight by providing tinted eyewear. When someone has exposure to intense flames, heat, arc welding radiation or lasers, apply ice to the source of the injury. Seek medical attention right away.
The Cost of Eye Injuries
Eye injury statistics are staggering when you dig deeper into how many occur each day. According to Parachute reports, total workplace injuries cost Canada $26.8 billion in 2010. Permanent partial disabilities added up to 55,717 people, and permanent total disabilities equaled 4,425 people. Additionally, there were 43,684 emergency room visits for burns, and hospitalizations for being struck by equipment equaled 68,355.
The billions of dollars for total costs of injuries are due to lost productivity, workers' compensation and medical treatments for employees. The reported eye injuries range from eye strains and trauma to permanent damage such as blindness and vision loss.
On average, men between ages 25 and 44 comprise 80 percent of workplace eye injury victims. Injuries can result as a lack of protective eyewear or even malfunctioning machines. What’s more, 40 percent of on-the-job eye injuries occur in the construction, manufacturing and mining industries. The industries deal with harsher conditions and are often prone to more than one hazard at a time. When employees receive eye wounds on the job, companies lose manpower and it puts a huge dent in their financial costs.
The cost to individuals is the amount of pain they will feel, as well as any irreversible injuries they may obtain. If a chemical spill splashes them in the eye or pieces of metal cut toward their face when they aren't wearing protective equipment, they may become partially or fully blind. While workers' compensation will cover most employees’ medical bills, it cannot reverse permanent damage done or reduce the pain.
As of 2009, the cost of an eye injury equaled about $1,500, and the Workers Compensation Board reported more than 22,500 eye-related workplace injuries in the last decade. From the hundreds of eye injuries in the workplace that occur each day, an average of one in 10 will require someone to miss one or more days of work to recover. Because eye injuries are more likely to occur in the workplace, safety glasses, goggles or masks are imperative to protect your workers. About 10 to 20 percent of all work-related injuries will cause permanent or provisional blindness.
Taking the risk may be initially easier than spending money on protective gear, but when an accident occurs, it will be detrimental to your employees and business in the long run.
How to Prevent Eye Injuries
The best and most obvious way to prevent eye injuries is always to wear personal protective eyewear. While some people claim they are unnecessary and may think of them as a distraction, safety glasses can prevent about 90 percent of critical eye injuries. It’s important to select the right eye protection for your worksite and make sure it’s in perfect condition. It’s also smart to verify it fits well and stays in place throughout the day.
Many workers often complain about safety glasses or goggles slipping off, having irritating bridges or not feeling right around their head. When you buy the right kind of protective eyewear with the right features, the gear will be more effective, as opposed to being annoying and in the way.
Workplace safety practices may be things you do out of habit, but as a quick reminder, never rub your eyes with dusty gloves, dirty hands or a shirt full of shrapnel. Right away, those elements can irritate your eyes and create a more severe problem. Clean your eyewear several times throughout the day, and always brush yourself off before removing your safety glasses. It’s also a good idea to keep your work areas clean and free of debris.
Making sure everyone understands potential eye dangers in a work zone or other specific areas can prevent future injuries. If your employees know about the proper protection they must wear before working, you can create a safe environment. Workers can also eliminate noticeable hazards before they begin, as well as use machine-guarding work screens. Preventive measures include:
- Assure all employees know how to use the tools
- Eliminate objects from unstable or falling areas
- Ensure each tool and piece of machinery works
- Identify hazardous spots at the construction site before working
- Make sure all safety features of equipment are in place
- Minimize the number of bystanders near dangerous areas
No matter if you are working in a zone or are passing through an area where eye hazards can occur, use proper eye protection wherever there is a chance of injury. You can even use signage and make announcements to reinforce eye safety. Sometimes it is a force of habit to put your glasses on top of your head but seeing a sign can be a constant reminder to put them back in place.
Training employees on your construction site to recognize eye injuries and how to respond the right way can also help eliminate eye injuries — or at least keep them under control. You should never attempt to treat serious wounds on your own, because you can often make the situation worse and cause further damage. It’s vital to call for medical attention when you notice the following signs in yourself or coworkers.
- Blood in the clear part of an eye
- Cut or torn eyelid
- Object in an eye or under an eyelid
- One eye doesn’t move as well as the other
- One eye sticks
- Pain or trouble seeing
- Unusual pupil dilation or shape
Call an ophthalmologist to look at your eye, even if the injury seems minor. While a piece of shrapnel or a drop of a chemical getting in your eye may not seem like an evident risk at first, do not delay medical attention. Untreated eye injuries can get worse throughout time.
When dealing with every type of eye wound on the job site from heat, impact or radiation, avoid touching, rubbing and applying pressure. You should also never attempt to remove objects from your eye, no matter how small. Do not use ointment or medication until prescribed by a doctor.
Personal protective equipment can offer a range of various abilities — but with protective eyewear, there are specific types for different applications and eye dangers. For example, wear safety glasses with side shields when working around flying objects, dust or other particles. If your job requires constant exposure to chemicals, wear goggles to create suction around your eyes. Do you work with hazardous radiation like welding, lasers or fiber optics? Wear special-purpose safety glasses, face shields, goggles or helmets for superior protection.
When determining which eye gear is most suitable for your business and workers, make sure the products you buy are compliant with the ANSI Z87.1 standard and CCOHS regulations. CCOHS can provide you information on several types of lenses for specific welding, cutting, buffing, brazing and other operations. You should also have multiple styles available for people to choose, as some options may feel more comfortable than others.
Construction Fasteners and Tools Has All the Protective Eyewear You Need
Eye injury prevention is ideal to keep your workers safe from injuries which will keep your business remaining productive in the long run. Construction Fasteners and Tools offers the following products to ensure construction site safety.
- Magnifier glasses
- Over prescription glasses
No matter if you are in an outside construction zone, a manufacturing setting or fabricating area, you need industrial safety glasses to protect your eyes.
Construction Fasteners and Tools offers bulk buying options and savings when you buy our safety products. If your purchase is more than $200, we will ship your order for free. We also offer a 30-day return policy for your peace of mind.
We sell high-quality safety equipment to any industry seeking eye protection gear for their employees. Our extensive inventory of products on our easy-to-navigate website will help you find what you need. If you don’t, we will source the product for you.
Purchase all your necessary protective eyewear from Construction Fasteners and Tools or contact us with further questions. We treat everyone the same – from little guys to large corporations – so you can continue to remain productive and protect your workers no matter what the job is.