All about eye safety

April 13, 2000
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Your eyes are important in almost everything you do. They deserve all the care and protection you can give them. This is especially true on the job. If you lost your sight, or had your vision severely impaired, could you do your job as you do today?

How can you protect your vision?

1 Wear eye protection. This is especially important when an activity you’re involved in presents a danger to your eyes such as flying particles, flashes of bright light, splashes of harmful chemicals, or flying dust.

There are many types of protective equipment you can wear, but it really comes down to three basic items. Wearing these depends on the type of work you perform:

  • Safety glasses
  • Goggles
  • Full-face shields

If you wear prescription eyeglasses you might think they offer enough protection against hazards. Not necessarily. On impact, regular lenses tend to shatter easily. Safety lenses shatter, too, but they have more resistance. It takes a much greater impact to shatter them. Also, regular eyeglasses cover less area of the face than eye protective equipment does. Contact lenses should not be worn wherever there is a chance that foreign matter can enter the eyes. Specks of dust can become lodged under the contact lens and scratch the eye. Liquids can also get trapped under a lens. Often, before a lens is removed and the eye is flushed with water, delicate eye tissue can already become damaged.

2 Get an eye exam. Do this at least once a year. As we get older, our eyes’ effectiveness tends to deteriorate. Eyeglasses are often needed to bring our vision back to peak performance. With clear vision, you are better equipped to spot and correct or avoid hazards on the job or anywhere.

3 Lighting is important, too. Good lighting is also necessary if you are to perform your job safely and correctly. But even where low light is required on the job, such as in a photographic darkroom, good vision is still needed to get the job done.

Why bother?

Workers often complain about having to wear eye protective equipment. Common excuses they provide are:
  • They don’t fit right. (They can easily be adjusted.)
  • Safety glasses fog over and are hard to see through. (It doesn’t take long to wipe them.)
  • Helmets and hoods are uncomfortable and get too warm. (Most are properly ventilated.)
  • Safety goggles are too heavy. (They actually weigh only a few ounces more than regular eyeglasses.)
  • Glasses and goggles get dirty. (Oh? Imagine what can happen to exposed eyes!)
  • The equipment causes a headache. (Perhaps you actually need an eye exam.)
  • This job will take only a minute. (An injury can happen in a minute.)
  • An injury won’t happen. (Unfortunately, injuries do happen without advance warning.)

Protecting your eyes on the job is essential to performing your duties properly. And this practice should also carry over into your life off the job.

Written by the staff of Business & Legal Reports, Inc. Visit www.blr.com for valuable free safety resources and information.

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