In 2002, close to 100,000 people were treated in U.S. Hospital emergency rooms for eye injuries related to the workplace, yet this figure actually only represents a small portion of the total number of injuries, says Prevent Blindness America. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, each day as many as 2,000 workers incur eye injuries related to their jobs.

The top ten workplace-related eye injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2002, by category, were:

    1. Welding Equipment (not specified) - 13,904

    2. Tools (not specified) - 9,492

    3. Adhesives - 6,698

    4. Lawn Mowers (not specified) - 4,566

    5. House Structures, Repair or Construction - 4,176

    6. Chemicals (others and not classified) - 3,806

    7. Power Workshop (grinders, buffers, polishers) - 3,234

    8. Saws (not specified) - 3,134

    9. Nails, Screws, Tacks, Bolts - 2,603

    10. Paints, Varnishes, Shellacs and Removers - 2,601

There are many steps that can be taken in industry to protect one's eyes. The first step an industrial workplace employer can take to protect workers’ eyes is to assess work areas for accidents that can be caused by impact, heat, chemicals, dust, glare and optical radiation. The second step is to have a good, sound safety program in place that mandates 100-percent participation of employees, managers and visitors. The same safety standards should apply to schools with industrial design and trade courses.

PBA offers several free fact sheets and brochures to safety managers and consumers: 2002 Workplace-Related Eye Injuries, Eye Safety is No Accident, Questions on Eye Safety at Work, and Workplace Safety Quiz. To receive this free information, call the PBA Hotline at 1-800-331-2020.