According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), around 2,000 workers a day sustain workplace eye injuries requiring medical care. Of these 2,000 workers, 100 experience days away from work.

Eye injuries are easily prevented when appropriate controls are put in place. Requirements to wear safety glasses are pervasive in construction and industrial settings. Housekeeping and tool safety also have significant effects on eye injury rates. Use this month’s Eye Safety Toolbox Talk to introduce the topic in your workplace.

Using poorly maintained tools, particularly striking tools that become damaged or mushroomed, are a common source of injuries. A chisel with a mushroomed head, when struck with a hammer, can create airborne shards that pose scratching and penetrating hazards to the eye.

Dusty workplaces are another common source of scratching hazards. An employee who gets dust in his eye and rubs at it can easily cause a corneal abrasion. These abrasions often result in recordable injuries when prescription eye drops are administered to prevent infection. Using foam-rimmed safety glasses to create a seal around the eye dramatically lowers the odds of dust entering the eye.

Removing dust from the area is an even better deterrent. Instead of sweeping dust or blowing it away with compressed air or a leaf blower, spray areas down with water to keep the dust from becoming airborne and make it easier to clean up with a squeegee. Several OSHA standards, including the newly updated Silica standard, ban dry-sweeping in most cases.

Equipping employees with comfortable and compliant safety eyewear, along with housekeeping and job site inspections, can result in reduced dust and fewer workplace injuries.

RETTEW provides comprehensive hazard analysis and personal protective equipment recommendations, including chemical protective equipment and respiratory protective equipment. Please contact Kelly Kramer, CECD, HEM, at or 717.377.2374.

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