How to prevent eye injuries in the workplace

How to prevent eye injuries in the workplace

The three-step process to protect against eye injuries

For many people, going blind is their worst nightmare. Blindness changes lives. It stops you from living the way you would like, and most people who go blind can no longer do the job they have been trained for and love. It’s a tragedy, then, that there so many eye injuries happen in UK workplaces. Thousands each year, with between 10% and 20% of them causing full or partial blindness.

An eye injury at work can change the employee’s life. For the business, it can mean lost productivity and, perhaps, losing a great employee. There is reputational risk, too, as well as the financial cost associated with workplace injuries – including the possibility of fines and compensation costs if your health and safety measures are found to be lacking or negligent.

In this article, you’ll learn how to prevent eye injuries in the workplace.

What are the common causes of eye injuries at work?

When developing an effective health and safety policy, it should contain details about how you control specific risks and hazards within your business. With regards to eye injury, risks and hazards are plentiful and include:

  • Flying objects
  • Tools
  • Radiation
  • Chemicals
  • Particles in the air
  • Screen work
  • Collision with inanimate objects

Three steps to prevent eye injury in the workplace

To prevent eye injuries n the workplace, a simple three-step strategy works best:

Step #1: Identify the risks of eye injuries

There may be specific risks for eyes in your workplace. You should carry out an HSE risk assessment and identify these, so that you can then act to eliminate the risk or protect against it.

Step 2: Eliminate risks where possible

Examine each hazard that you have identified, and then consider if the risk of eye injury could be eliminated; for example, by using machine guards or work screens.

Step 3: Protect any remaining risk of eye injury

The final step is to protect eyes from injury by using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). To protect eyes, this means choosing the correct protection for the environment and job. Examples of safety eyewear include:

  • Safety glasses
  • Goggles
  • Face shields
  • Welding helmets
  • Full-face respirators

What eye protection should your employees wear?

The exact eye protection to be worn will depend on the hazard that exists and the risk of eye injury. People working with chemicals may need goggles. Those working where there are flying objects or airborne particles may need safety glasses with side protection. Where radiation is a hazard, full masks should be worn.

Choosing the right eye protection to prevent injury

Having chosen the type of eye protection needed, you should also consider the material that safety lenses will be made from. You’ll have three choices:

  • Glass lenses, which are best for harsh chemicals, but can be heavy and uncomfortable
  • Plastic lenses, which are lighter, less likely to fog, but not as resistant to scratches
  • Polycarbonate lenses, which are lightweight, stronger than glass and plastic, but not as scratch-resistant as glass

Whichever you choose as best for your safety eyewear, the eye protectors must be fully compliant with the law and PPE regulations. The old PPE Directive has been superseded by the PPE Regulations (EU) 2016/425. This new regulation came into force on 21st April 2018, though there is a one-year transition period. Be warned, though: if your safety eyewear does not comply fully with the new regulations from 21st April 2019, you will be held accountable for an eye injury in your workplace.

Protect your employees and your business from eye injuries in the workplace. Contact Sentry today and discover the online intelligent system that will help your business remain Health and Safety compliant with minimum effort.

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