One set per customer - eyes, that is
Every year in the U.S., nearly a million people suffer eye injuries that occur both on and off the job. Many require hospital care and a number result in partial or complete loss of vision. Sadly, most of the injuries were preventable if only the victim had simply worn protective eyewear.
We are all aware that certain of our jobs require the use of eye protection along with other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, aprons, etc. The focus of this article is on the use of eye protection off the job. We will discuss the types of hazards, when eye protection is needed, and various types of eye protection that are available. We will also offer some tips on dealing with eye injuries.
Types of hazards
So what types of eye hazards might we encounter off the job? Probably a lot more than at first thought. Any activity that generates dirt, sand, grit, dust, chips or other debris, smoke, sparks, splashing or irritating fumes all qualify as hazards.
Eye protection should be used when you do any type of activity that produces any of the above. Yard work is the first to come to mind – mowing, trimming, applying fertilizer, cutting firewood and using a leaf blower or wood chipper. Carpentry also has its inherent hazards including those resulting from driving nails, dry walling, drilling and installing any type of hardware. Using saws, especially circular saws, generates large amounts of sawdust. Another source of hazards is the handling of chemicals. This can include using cleaning liquids, adding various fluids to the car, pouring drain cleaners or bowl cleaners, applying paints and spraying insecticides.
If we wear regular glasses, we can't count on them to provide a proper level of protection. They offer minimal coverage for the eye and the frames and lenses cannot withstand more than very minor impacts. Instead, purchase a pair of safety goggles at most hardware or home improvement stores. Look for goggles that meet the American National Standards Institute's specifications for safety goggles (ANSI Z87.1). Many goggles can be worn directly over your prescription glasses making for better vision. You also choose between non-vented goggles for protection against fumes, vented for protection against impact only, and direct vented for protection against impact and splashes.
Since objects and materials that can impact the eyes can also hit the face, our personal favorite for complete face and eye protection is the full face shield. This consists of a rounded clear plastic or acrylic shield attached to adjustable bands that form the headgear. The shield can be pivoted upward when not in use. The shield can also be worn with prescription glasses. While the shields are bulkier than goggles, they are light in weight and do afford better overall protection than goggles.
What to do if you suffer an eye injury
If a person suffers an eye injury, it should be treated a soon as possible. Eye injuries may not seem serious at first, but delaying treatment could make the damage worse and cause diminished or lost vision. The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers this advice in the event of an eye injury:
- Do not rub the eye ? it could cause further damage by pushing sand, grit or an object further into the eye
- Do not apply ointment or other medication to the eye
- Shield the eye from pressure by taping a paper or foam cup against the bones surrounding the eye (brow, cheek, and bridge of the nose). This is especially true in case of a cut, puncture or an object stuck in the eye
- In the event of a chemical splash, flush the eye immediately with water for 15 minutes and seek medical help immediately
- In case of a blow of any sort to the eye, gently apply a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling. Do not apply pressure
- Use water to flush sand or dirt from the eye
Please note that these are first aid measures to be used until you can obtain medical treatment.