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Eye Injuries in the Workplace: Why Safety Glasses Are So Important

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Because you only get two eyes, and we can’t replace them if something goes wrong! Eye injuries in the workplace are common, but they’re also easily avoidable in the majority of cases.
Safety glasses are so important because in nearly 60% of workplace eye injuries, the wounded party did not believe the protective equipment was required. Imagine how many fewer injuries we could have if everyone took the right precautions at work.
Of course, not every accident is avoidable. Let’s look at the most common eye injuries and how safety glasses can help.

You’re Not A Psychic – Wear Safety Glasses

It’s such a common scene: a blasé worker doesn’t think they’re likely to injure themselves, and the safety equipment isn’t designed by Ray Ban, so they toss them aside and carry on. No one can predict a wayward splash of oil, or a flying piece of woodchip. If your employer says wear safety equipment, you can bet it’s not for the good of their own health!

Okay, So When Should I Wear Them?

We know that in some jobs, wearing safety glasses can be very inconvenient when the risk of injury is quite low. As a rule, here are a few situations where you should definitely be wearing safety eyewear:

  • When dealing with solid projectiles like concrete, wood or metal fragments.
  • Handling dangerous chemicals or alkali, where either splashes or fumes could reach your eyes.
  • If working with bright lights or radiation (such as UV or lasers).
  • When dealing with any bodily fluids which might contain virus particles.

To use an old adage, it’s definitely be better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your eyes.

Will Any Safety Glasses Work?

The specific safety eyewear to use can vary hugely depending on your situation. It could be that traditional safety glasses, goggles with side protection or even entire face shields are best suited to protecting your eyes from injury. Do the research and make sure that whenever you’re working in a potentially hazardous environment, you use the right safety equipment.

Ways To Avoid Injury

Physically protecting your eyes is priority number one. However, there are various other steps you can take to minimise the chance of injury. For example:

  • Be aware of common and known dangers at work, like wood chip if you’re a carpenter.
  • Beat injuries to the punch by using machine guards, protective screens or other safety features.
  • Properly maintain all safety eyewear and immediately replace anything that is damaged.
  • If working somewhere new, inspect the room and highlight any potential hazards to keep an eye on.

People will always be unfortunate and fall victim to poor luck, but that doesn’t account for the 700 Canadians who are subject to eye injuries on the job every single day. If you take the appropriate steps, then the chances of being injured are hugely reduced. Remember that a serious injury could result in impaired vision, time off work and possibly blindness in extreme cases.
It’s not worth the risk; use safety glasses.

Written by Dr. Scott Mundle

A University of Waterloo graduate (class of 1983), Dr. Mundle became a partner with Henderson Vision Centre just one year later. Dr. Mundle has been an integral part of Henderson Vision Centre ever since.
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