Eye injuries are frighteningly common — more than 20,000 of them occur each year, and they take an economic toll of around $300 million when the cost of lost work days, medical care and compensation are counted.
In order to reduce the number of eye injuries at work and reduce the costs associated with them, it’s important to focus on three things:
Preventing eye injuries from occurring in the first place generally means educating employees about the dangers that they face. In construction, the most common hazards include exposure to caustic chemicals (especially splashes from rough handling), fragments of debris or metal shavings and injuries from tools.
Adequate safety protection is something that has to be preached from management on down — and the example has to be firmly set the same way. If your managers or supervisors flout the safety rules, you can’t expect employees to take the hazards seriously either.
Workers need to wear safety goggles anytime they are working with something that could cause injuries to their eyes — even when it isn’t always the most comfortable. For example, no employee should be allowed to pick up a welder without the appropriate safety goggles, even if it happens to be hot and humid that day. Machine guards and work screens are also helpful in preventing eye injuries. If chemicals have to be handled, it’s important to stress safety over swiftness to avoid splashes.
A rapid response to any eye injury is important — it may save an employee’s sight! If there’s a regular threat that a caustic chemical or a damaging particle might get into an employee’s eyes, there should be a fully-equipped eyewash station on site. If not, the first available method of flushing the eye should be used while medical help is on the way.
If an employee takes a blow to the eye, it’s important to apply a cold compress and get the employee to an eye doctor for evaluation as quickly as possible. If the eye is clearly damaged, emergency services need to be called immediately.
Any construction worker who suffers an eye injury on the job due to poor training on the potential hazards or an employer’s failure to provide either adequate safety equipment or first aid should consider speaking to an attorney.
Source: www.webmd.com, “Eye Injury Treatment,” accessed May 23, 2017
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