Each year, 300,000 Americans visit the emergency room to treat a workplace eye injury. A significant portion of eye injuries occur in manufacturing, construction and mining, industries which are experiencing recent job growth.
During Workplace Eye Wellness Month in March, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Mid Atlantic Eye Physicians is reminding employers and workers in these fields about the importance of wearing eye protection.
The Academy's public education website EyeSmart® provides the following tips for avoiding eye injuries at work:
- Wear protective eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury such as anywhere there may be flying debris, falling objects, chemicals and intense light and heat. This is particularly true of workers involved in welding. Among welders, their assistants, and nearby workers, UV radiation burns (welder's flash) routinely damage workers' eyes and surrounding tissue.
- Make sure your eye protection is American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-approved, OSHA compliant, and is appropriate for the hazards in your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields). If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that task.