Eye can see the hurt

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A recent claim arising from work at a construction site caught my eye. The worker admits to not wearing eye protection “this one time” because he was in a hurry. Then, while grinding steel, he felt something fly into his eye, but because he had no pain or vision issues, he brushed it off. Ultimately, this worker’s disregard for his own safety due to hurrying resulted in a disruption of his personal life and to his employer’s schedule.

That night, after the incident, the worker’s eye started burning and he could not close it. The following morning, instead of going to the job, he had to go to the emergency room where the nursing staff washed out the eye. On the third morning the eye was still tearing, so he visited a local clinic which checked it out and immediately sent him to an ocular specialist in a larger city. The doctors were unsure how much foreign material was embedded in the eye, and did not want to start “digging around.” They had to treat the eye over several days, because the metal shavings were so deep. As the eye healed, it pushed more of the foreign material toward the outside of the eye where a specialist could clean it out each day. In addition to the numerous doctor’s visits, treatment also included cleansing drops hourly, and antibiotic drops every six hours.

I know that I would certainly appreciate letting my eye heal, over “digging around” in my eyeball. However, all it took for this injury to occur was that one moment where the worker’s judgment lapsed—choosing not to wear proper eye protection—to result in so much disruption to everyone.

Several days after the initial injury, complications continued and included blurry vision, and light sensitivity, preventing the worker from driving at night due to bright lights and glare. The doctor said that there may be some scar tissue over the cornea which causes the blurriness, but could not yet tell what treatment will be to try and correct that.

The Importance of Proper Eye Protection

90% of eye injuries can be prevented by using property safety eyewear

Over the years, there have been many reasons (and excuses), for not wearing eye protection, but are these preventable injuries worth all this hassle? Here are some brief statistics:

  • According to the Center for Disease Control, about 2,000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment, each day!
  • The financial cost of these injuries is enormous—more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and workers compensation benefits. No dollar figure can adequately reflect the personal toll these accidents take on the injured workers.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly three out of every five workers injured were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident.
  • About 40% of the injured workers were wearing some form of eye protection when the accident occurred. These workers were most likely wearing eyeglasses with no side shields, though injuries among employees wearing full-cup or flat-fold side shields occurred, as well.

Please take a few minutes to surf the Internet to examine the variety of new and innovative eye protection products which are available, before you, or one of your employees, lose their vision and are never be able to see the Internet again.

Eye Protection Features to Look For:

  • Anti-fog glasses if employees are complaining, and/or not wearing protection because it fogs up too easily.
  • Indoor/outdoor glasses are ideal for construction employees who are regularly moving in and out of buildings.
  • Foam lined glasses and goggles provide added protection in windy conditions, or provide a better fit for some faces.
  • Bifocal eye protection is available for users who need those.
  • Different kinds, sizes and configurations.
    • Note: Protection should be close fitting to the face, and employees should be trained to report improper or inadequate fit. One rule of thumb is to allow no more than the width of a pencil eraser between the glasses and the face.
      • But, please don’t actually insert pencils, erasers or any other hard objects towards the eye.
  • Have cleaning solutions and supplies available to maintain cleanliness, clarity, visibility, and to prevent dust or debris build up on the inside of glasses that could fall into an eye.
  • Eye and face protection must comply with ANSI Z87.
    • Ordinary prescription eyeglasses, without side shields, do not provide satisfactory protection.

Environments Where Eye Protection Is Particularly Important

A good many of the injuries we see result from material that finds its way around safety eyewear. Besides ensuring proper fit and always wearing protection when required, it’s important to remember that a single pair of eye protection is a minimum requirement. Consider requiring foam lined eyewear and/or double protection (add a faceshield, goggles, welding hood, full face respirator, etc.), for the following exposures:

  • Windy conditions
  • When airborne particles like ashes, dust, embers, sand blast, grit, paint or others are likely
    • Don’t forget that the first priority is to eliminate the hazard! Prevent foreign debris from blowing around the job by maintaining good housekeeping.
  • When any debris is flying around in a work area
  • Cutting, grinding or burning metal
  • Using a chain saw or concrete saws
  • All cutting above the chest or shoulders
  • Drilling concrete above the waist
  • Power sanding or grinding
  • Pressure washing

Finally, your Personal Protective Equipment Assessment, or Job Hazard Analysis, isn’t just a piece of paper in a drawer or a safety program. Visit your plan often with employees at crew safety huddles and update it throughout the day if windy conditions or debris become an issue.

Remember: 90% of eye injuries can be prevented by using property safety eyewear

We only have two eyes! They are delicate, but vital.

Are few sources of additional information are:

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/eye/

http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/eyeandface/index.html

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid/FA00053

 

Acadia is pleased to share this material with its customers.  Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services.  This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.  Distribution of this information does not constitute an assumption by us of your obligations to provide a safe workplace. Maintaining a safe workplace in accordance with all laws is your responsibility. We make no representation or warranty that our activities or recommendations will place you in compliance with law, relieve you of potential liability or ensure your premises or operations are safe. We exercise no control over your premises or operations and have no responsibility or authority to implement loss prevention practices or procedures.

 

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3 responses to “Eye can see the hurt”

  1. Andrew Koutalakis says:

    John,

    This is great post – I can appreciate how scary this situation is. A few years ago, we put our house on the market. We decided to go away for the weekend while several showings were scheduled, and I too was in a rush to get the lawn mowed. I didn’t put on any eye protection, and after about five minutes, the mower kicked a big chunk of dust and small pebbles into my right eye. It was very painful, bloody, and scary. I spent some time at an urgent care/hospital having pebbles removed, getting x-rays, getting my eye washed and examined. It was not fun. And it all could have been prevented by wearing some simple safety glasses. And, working for an insurance company, I should have known better.

    The next time you’re in the Maine office, please stop by, and I can show you a photo of the aftermath. You can even use it as a cautionary tale, if that will help.

  2. John Lysy says:

    Andrew,

    Thanks for your response, and sharing your story. Sorry you had to go through such an experience, glad it sounds like eveything turned out okay. My wife is a teacher, and she likes mowing, during her vacation, but wears ordinary sunglasses. The silver lining from your incident, is that I’ve gotten her safety sunglasses now, before anything happened. I know ordinary sunglasses don’t provide the same level of protection, but it took your comment, to push me into action. Sometimes even the shoemaker needs a reminder, his family doesn’t have shoes! I’m also ordering her some new hot pink safety glasses, that I just saw in a new ad, with safety glasses made specially for women. Manufactuers are meeting needs for style too. It’s not just safety at work, but at home too! Enjoy a fun and safe summer!

  3. John Sanders says:

    It is very important to wear some protective gear for eyes when you are working in work sites like construction zone. It is important that the management check that all their workers are taking safety precautions when they are working. Management should be responsible towards the safety of its workers. I am very touched with your post. Thanks!!

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