The eyes are the most vulnerable part of the human body. A flying metal shard that hits your skin will only cause a minor cut. That same metal shard hitting an eye can easily penetrate its delicate outer tissues and cause serious damage and even blindness. That’s why wearing steel toe work boots and a hard hat, but forgoing safety glasses doesn’t make sense. Your head and feet can take far more abuse than your eyes.
Here are four common eye hazards in the workplace:
Small Foreign Objects
These are solids small enough to get on or into the eye. Dust particles usually cling to the eye’s surface causing irritation or possibly a chemical burn if the dust is chemically reactive. Larger objects moving at a fast speed such as a piece of metal coming from a power tool can scratch or even penetrate into the eye. This type of injury is common in the construction and manufacturing industries where cutting, sawing, grinding, sanding, hammering, and other mechanical operations produce airborne pieces of material.
You are not only vulnerable to airborne objects produced by your own activities, but to those of nearby workers as well. This is why your safety glasses should protect both the front and sides of the eyes.
Note that ordinary prescription glasses are not a substitute for safety glasses. They lack sufficient impact strength and are too small to block objects coming from different angles. If you require corrective safety glasses, prescription safety glasses or goggles are available for work protection against foreign objects.
Large objects that can swing or whip through the air such as ropes, straps, chains and tree branches can scratch or cut the eye. For example, metal strapping is often used to secure boxes to wooden pallets. These are under high tension and may whip through the air when cut.
This may occur from eye contact with a chemical powder or with a splashed fluid. Effective eye protection from this hazard should provide a seal around the eyes to prevent powder from blowing in from the sides or splashed fluid from running down your skin and into the eyes. Prescription safety goggles that provide a seal are recommended. While acid exposure can cause great harm, alkaline substances cause even greater damage.
Note that contact lenses can increase the injury severity of a chemical splash accident. The chemical agent often becomes trapped under the contact lens where an eye washing fluid cannot reach. Taking off the contacts delays removal of the trapped chemical, which gives the agent more time to damage the eye. The victim’s pain may prevent her from removing the contacts on her own. If a chemical splash gets around your prescription safety glasses, you can rapidly take them off and use an eyewash station.
Workers in construction and other outdoor industries aren’t the only ones who must protect their eyes from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. Exposure to artificial UV rays occurs in many indoor occupations. For example, welding is a common manufacturing process that emits high levels of UV radiation. Although welders wear their own protection, bystanders and nearby workers should use safety glasses with UV protection.
Other artificial sources include curing lamps, germicidal lamps, black lights, and certain types of lasers. Get prescription safety glasses made from materials that provide 100% ultraviolet light protection. Alternatively, you can get safety glasses with a protective UV coating.
Prescription safety glasses selection that protects against the eye hazards specific to your line of work is important. For help in doing this and for answers to your questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.