By Dr. Bradley Lewis, BWC Medical Director
In addition to March Madness, the Ides of March, and the spring equinox, March is also — wait for it — Workplace Eye Wellness Month!
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, there are 2,000 workplace eye injuries a day which require medical treatment. A plurality of these (40%) occur in the field of construction, manufacturing and mining. It is estimated that 90% of these injuries could have been prevented with proper eye protection.
Eye injuries fall into three categories:
- Blunt trauma, abrasions, and contusions.
- Lacerations and penetration of the eye.
- Burns – thermal and chemical.
Of these, the most common is blunt trauma, abrasions, and contusions. These injuries can result in:
- “black eye” – swelling and bruising of the soft tissue around the eye.
- scleral hemorrhage – superficial bleeding over the surface of the white part of the eye.
- corneal abrasion.
- hemorrhage within the eye.
- detachment of the retinal of the eye.
- damage to the muscle and bone surrounding the eye.
The above list goes from least to most serious injury. While a “black eye” may often be managed with a cold compress, the other injuries on the list require varying degrees of medical intervention.
Lacerations and penetration of the eye and any burn of the eye can cause significant damage and require immediate medical care.
Prevention of these injuries requires proper use of safety glasses, goggles or face shields, or welding helmets as the occupation warrants.
Safety glasses are typically used as protection against impact and optical radiation. Side protection is needed to prevent injury from flying particles.
Goggles are stronger than safety glasses and serve as protection from higher impacts. They also provide greater particle protection, protection against chemical splashes, and with proper tinting, protection from welding light. Goggles should be properly vented to prevent fogging. Goggles used to protect from liquid or fine dust/particle hazards should use indirect, rather than direct venting.
In addition to direct eye protection, proper use of machine safety guards, proper use, mixing, and storage of chemicals is also essential to ensure eye safety.
Your partners at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation are dedicated to work with both employers, workers, and providers to ensure a safe working environment. For more information on eye wellness, check out our Eye Protection Safety Talk.
Here’s looking at you!