Vision Safety in the Industrial Workplace
Chemical ocular burns, corneal cuts, eyelid lacerations and eye punctures are common industrial ocular accidents, according to studies by the Department of Labor and Statistics. An industrial ocular accident can cause vision loss or impairment. Companies lose valuable production time and money when an employee is removed from the skilled workforce because of an ocular accident on the job.
More than 3,000 industrial ocular accidents are reported annually and many of these accidents could have been prevented. A complete vision safety program is necessary to prevent ocular injuries on the job and maintain vision for successful industrial production. Optometrists are valuable partners in helping to develop an industrial vision safety plan that will prevent ocular injuries.
The key elements for an industrial vision safety program include:
Evaluation of the work environment: Inspect work areas and equipment to identify potential ocular hazards.
Vision testing: Each employee should have a comprehensive visual evaluation by an optometrist. Uncorrected vision problems such as blurred vision, double vision, poor depth perception and peripheral vision loss can lead to accidents while working in an industrial setting with heavy equipment operation.
Ocular protection: Specific protective eyewear is selected for particular hazardous activities. For example, safety eyeglasses with polycarbonate lenses will protect workers’ eyes from projectiles while proper filter tints will protect workers’ eyes while performing welding tasks.
Eyewear Adjustments: Safety eyewear needs to be adjusted properly so that it fits comfortably and is positioned for optimum vision. An optometrist trained in eyewear adjustment can fit safety glasses correctly.
Education and plan for emergencies: Workers should be educated about prevention of eye injuries by using safety eyewear and also ocular first air procedures including eyewash stations. The educated workers is less likely to have an eye injury that can cost production time and company medical expenses.