Eye Safety at Work — What Can You Do?
It doesn’t matter what you do for a living; your eyes are an important tool. Today’s blog offers some tips for keeping those peepers in good working order, and some first aid advice on what to do for severe eye injuries.
ISHN magazine offers some thoughts from Prevent Blindness, a volunteer health and safety group, for anyone that uses a computer at their workstation:
- Visit an eye doctor for a dilated eye exam to make sure you are seeing clearly and to detect any potential vision issues.
- Place your screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little bit below eye level.
- Use a document holder placed next to your computer screen. It should be close enough so you don’t have to swing your head back and forth or constantly change your eye focus.
- Adjust the text size on the screen to a comfortable level.
- Change your lighting to lower glare and harsh reflections. Glare filters over your computer screen can also help.
- Use a chair you can adjust.
- Choose screens that can tilt and swivel. A keyboard that you can adjust is also helpful.
And here’s an easy-to-remember formula from The Vision Council, the 20-20-20 break:
- Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
For those outside the office cube farm, you already know that safety eyewear is the name of the game. But there’s more to consider than just the goggles to create an eye-safe work environment. Also from the good folks at ISHN, here are ten steps an employer can take to reduce workplace eye injuries:
Assess -Look carefully at plant operations. Inspect all work areas, access routes, and equipment for hazards to eyes. Study eye accident and injury reports. Identify operations and areas the present eye hazards.
Test - Uncorrected vision problems can cause accidents. Provide vision testing during routine employee physical exams.
Protect - Select protective eyewear that is designed for the specific duty or hazard. Protective eyewear must meet the current standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and later revisions.
Participate -Create a 100% mandatory program for eye protection in all operation areas of your plant. A broad program prevents more injuries and is easier to enforce than one that limits eye protection to certain departments, areas, or jobs.
Fit -Workers need protective eyewear that fits well and is comfortable. Have eyewear fitted by an eye care professional or someone trained to do this. Provide repairs for eyewear and require each worker to be in charge of his or her own gear.
Plan for an Emergency -Set up first-aid procedures for eye injuries. Have eyewash stations that are easy to get to, especially where chemicals are used. Train workers in basic first aid and identify those with more advanced training.
Educate -Conduct ongoing educational programs to create, keep up, and highlight the need for protective eyewear. Add eye safety to your regular employee training programs and to new employee orientation.
Support -Management support is key to having a successful eye safety program. Management can show their support for the program by wearing protective eyewear whenever and wherever needed.
Review -Regularly review and update your accident prevention policies. Your goal should be NO eye injuries or accidents!
Put it in Writing -Once your safety program is created, put it in writing. Display a copy of the policy in work and employee gathering areas. Include a review of the policy in new employee orientation.
What to do for a severe eye injury
Because they help determine facial appearance and function, traumatic injuries to the eyes, mouth, and face can have significant physical and emotional effects.
Objects that penetrate the surface of the eye require immediate professional medical care. Foreign bodies propelled at high speed present the highest risk.
Activate EMS. Immediate care requires stabilization of the object and reducing additional injury. Do not allow the person to rub the eye. Never try to remove an embedded object.
For small objects, cover both eyes with loose pads. Eyes move together. Covering both eyes prevents movement of the affected eye. Stabilize larger objects with a bulky, clean pad. Cover the uninjured eye with a loose pad.
Covering both eyes can be frightening. Stay with the person and calm, comfort, and reassure him to help reduce anxiety. Regularly assess the person until EMS arrives.
Small foreign objects on the surface of an eye will cause irritation and discomfort. Encourage the person to not rub the affected eye. Have the person blink several times to see if the eyelid or tearing can remove the object naturally. If he or she cannot, then flush the eye with tap water or saline eyewash solution. Flush outward from the nose side of the eye.
If pain continues or the person feels like something is still in the eye, cover the eye lightly with a gauze pad and seek professional medical care. If the person has been exposed to flying metal fragments (hammering, grinding, etc.), do not attempt removal. Seek professional medical care immediately.
Want to know more about responding to first aid emergencies at your work or home? We've got a class for you!