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In the Blink of an Eye

April 21st, 2012

Courtesy of State Compensation Insurance Fund of California

In just the blink of an eye, an incident can injure or even blind someone not using caution or wearing the proper eye protection. However, eye injuries can be reduced if workers are trained to recognize hazards, follow safety practices, and wear recommended eye protection.

Eye protection such as safety glasses, goggles, face shield, or helmets must meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Warning signs should be placed near machines, equipment or process areas that require specific eye protection. In hazardous workplaces, street-wear eyeglasses should be only worn in conjunction with ANSI-approved additional cover protection.

In case of an eye injury, workers must know how to respond. Professional medical attention should be sought as soon as possible after taking initial first aid measures. Some of the more common causes are: foreign particles such as dust, dirt, metal flakes, wood chips, or an eyelash. These get into the eye from the wind or activities like chipping, grinding, sawing, brushing, and hammering from power tools, equipment, and machinery. Flush the object out with water. Never rub or try to remove objects embedded in the eye as this can cause damage. Loosely bandage eyes to stop movement, then seek professional care.

Bumps and blows to the eyes can be helped if a cold compress is applied for 15 minutes to reduce pain and swelling.

Cuts in or around the eyes should be loosely bandaged to stop any eye movement until professionally attended. Don’t rub, press, or wash the cut; this can cause further damage.

Chemical splashes from solvents; paints, hot liquids or other hazardous solutions can cause great damage. Go immediately to the nearest emergency shower or water source. Look directly into the stream of water. With fingers hold eyes open and flush eyes for at least 15 minutes.

Light burns can be caused from exposure to welding; lasers or radiant light. Their effect may not be felt until hours later when the eyes begin to feel gritty and become sensitive to light, then redness or swelling may occur. Keep eyes closed while awaiting medical attention.

Eye safety is no accident. Protect your eyesight from workplace hazards by wearing and caring for appropriate, approved protective eyewear. You’ll see the difference.

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