A total of 36,680 American workers suffered eye injuries on the job in 2004 and required time off work to recuperate, according to a recently released U.S. Department of Labor study.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report also showed that manufacturing or production jobs had the highest eye injury rates, followed by installation, maintenance and repair, and construction. Men comprised 80 percent of the eye injury total, and those aged 25-34 reported the most eye injuries.

“Even the most skilled and experienced workers can be involved in an unforeseen accident and have their vision altered forever,” says Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America.

PBA reports that 90 percent of all job-related eye injuries can be prevented simply by wearing the proper protection. The organization, which designated March as Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month, stresses the importance of safety eyewear having “ANSI Z87” clearly marked on all glasses or goggles. In addition, PBA says:

  • Proper eyewear should be worn at all times whenever eye hazards are present;
  • Workers should know where the nearest eyewash station is located and how to use it; and
  • Employers should be notified immediately if safety hazards are discovered.