Reducing the risk of traumatic eye injuries on the job is as simple as putting on protective eyewear, but this important aspect of workplace safety is often overlooked. Throughout Europe, hundreds of work-related eye injuries occur each day, which results in nearly 100,000 eye injuries each year according to the European Statistics on Accidents at Work (ESAW). Prevent Blindness, an organization that supports eye health and safety, has suggested that as much as 90% of work-related eye injuries could have been prevented by wearing appropriate eye protection.
Beyond health and safety, proper protective eyewear can also have a profound economic effect, as eye injuries cost billions of euros every year in income and production losses, not to mention personal medical costs and reimbursements. ESAW has reported that hazardous substances caused 31,000 work-related eye injuries in a single year, which required each employee to miss an average of 25 days of work.
Awareness of safety regulations and possibilities for danger is the first step in choosing the right kind of protective eyewear. The necessary product depends on the potential hazards of the situation, in addition to each individual’s personal vision requirements. Approximately 70% of eye injuries in the workplace are caused by debris or particles, most of which are smaller than a pinhead. Protective eyewear with side shields must be used in situations where particles pose a hazard.
Other common causes of workplace eye injuries are liquid chemicals, vapors and radiation. Goggles are essential for settings where chemicals may be present, and different radiative environments have special eye protection requirements that should be followed carefully. It is important that protective eyewear be kept in good condition and replaced if it is at all damaged.