Common worksite eye emergencies

Published on
February 16, 2022

 

As a worker, you may encounter a variety of eye injuries and conditions. It's important to know and to take precautions against potential hazards. Approximately 2,000 workers undergo medical treatment for work-related eye injuries every day, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Patient reports indicate that they were not wearing safety eyewear at all in most cases.

What are the common jobs that are at higher risk of worksite eye injuries?

There are so many various worksite eye injuries that take place typically if you work as a: 

  • Construction worker
  • Welder
  • Janitor dealing with chemical harsh products.
  • Lab technician
  • Plumber
  • Auto mechanic
  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Miner
  • Craftsmen
  • Lumberjack

 

There are various jobs that put you at risk of getting these eye conditions so precautionary measures should be taken. It is particularly important to wear sunglasses with proper UV protection on them if you are a welder because flash burns caused by UV rays can be extremely painful and can harm your eyes permanently. For jobs that have risk of flying debris or chemicals getting into your eye, wearing protective goggles is essential. Worksites that deal with chemicals should always have an eye wash station available. 

What should you do if you ever have a worksite injury?

You need to see your eyecare doctor right away so that you can obtain the proper treatment for your eye injury. It is extremely important to immediately wash out a chemical burn with a sterile saline solution if you suffer a chemical burn, since those chemicals can be very harsh. It's crucial not to let saline solution go into the other eye while irrigating the injured eye because it may cause a burn or cross contamination. If you get a piece of metal in your eye or a foriegn body, you should absolutely go to the eye doctor so that it can be properly removed and antibiotics can be prescribed to prevent infection and scarring. There are many myths about dealing with eye emergencies such as potatoes for welders who get flash burns, always call a doctor right away when dealing with a workplace eye emergency. 

How to protect your eyes from an injury?

By practicing preventive measures, you can minimize the chances of experiencing an eye injury. You can prevent an eye injury by following these steps:

  • Be aware of the workplace eye hazards that you may encounter
  • Take steps to eliminate every possible hazard
  • Wear the appropriate eye protection
  • Make sure that the eye equipment fits and is comfortable before you begin working
  • Alkali chemical burns are the most dangerous, be extra cautious and never work without eye protection if you are working with chemicals such as ammonia, lye, magnesium, potassium hydroxide, or lyme.
  • Make sure your workplace has an eye wash station. 
  • Welders should wear goggles or safety glasses with side shields that comply with ANSI Z87.
  • Get the protective gear replaced if they are damaged or worn out - the safety eyewear should be in good condition

Important Statistics about workplace eye emergencies

  • 80% of workplace eye emergencies happen to men aged 25-44 
  • 1 million Americans have lost some eyesight due to a workplace eye emergency
  • 90% of workplace eye injuries could have been prevented by wearing proper eye protection

What should you do if you get small particles in the eye? 

  1. Do not rub your eyes 
  2. Flush your eye with eye wash, running water or saline 
  3. Lift your eyelid
  4. Visit an eye doctor 

What should you do if you have a chemical in the eye? 

  1. Remove contact lenses
  2. Flush your eye with running water or eye wash for 10 minutes, roll your eye around to ensure full coverage 
  3. Identify what chemical entered your eye, 
  4. Call an eye doctor and schedule an emergency eye exam

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