Workplace Eye Safety: Best Practices

Every year, approximately 20,000 eye-related workplace injuries occur in the US. From dust and flying objects to chemicals and laser radiation, eye hazards are prevalent across various industries. Employers must prioritize eye safety. OSHA mandates eye protection when hazards are present (OSHA standard 1910.133). Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) options include general safety glasses, laser safety glasses, and chemical goggles, chosen based on the specific hazards workers face. Promote awareness of potential dangers, encourage regular eye exams, ensure correct PPE use, and provide thorough training to safeguard employees from occupational eye injuries. Prioritize eye safety for a healthier, safer workplace.
eye safety

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that each year, around 20,000 eye injuries occur in workplaces across America, leading to varying degrees of discomfort, vision strain, and, in severe cases, blindness. Because of this, employers should prioritize eye safety in their workplaces to protect their employees. This guide will cover the prevalent eye hazards in various industries, the essential personal protective equipment (PPE) needed, and the best practices for ensuring occupational eye safety.

Prevalent Eye Hazards in Various Work Environments

Eye dangers lurk in nearly all sectors, with the construction, manufacturing, and automotive fields, particularly vulnerable. The most widespread eye hazard is dust, which can scratch the eye and blur vision, potentially leading to blindness if not treated promptly and properly. Other common risks include larger flying objects, such as wood chips, which pose similar threats on a bigger scale.

Occupations involving welding or using lasers face significant risks from optical radiation, which can lead to retinal burns and cataracts. Chemical splashes and fumes are also major threats, capable of causing eye damage. Even items like cleaning agents, gasoline, and paint thinners pose risks if mishandled. For office employees, prolonged screen exposure is a notable concern.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

In line with OSHA standard 1910.133, employers must provide suitable eye protection in the presence of hazards.

Types of PPE

A range of PPE options exists for eye protection. Basic safety glasses or goggles offer primary protection, covering the front and sides of the eyes. Specialized glasses and goggles are available for those exposed to optical radiation, featuring tinted lenses to block harmful rays. Chemical goggles provide comprehensive protection, like swim goggles, preventing chemical splashes from reaching the eyes.

Selecting Appropriate PPE

It’s crucial for employers to select the right PPE based on the specific hazards their workers face. For instance, welders need protection against optical radiation. Once the primary hazards are identified, all employees must receive suitable eye protection for every shift.

Best Practices for Eye Safety

Effective eye safety requires a combination of strategies.

  • Hazard Awareness: The initial step is to recognize and understand the potential hazards within a workplace. This often involves observing the work environment for projectiles, chemicals, and heat or laser use, helping mitigate risks and choose the appropriate PPE.
  • Regular Eye Exams: Annual eye exams can detect diseases early and prevent long-term damage. Employers should ensure their health plans cover vision care or offer additional support, such as on-site eye examinations.
  • Proper PPE Usage: The effectiveness of PPE hinges on its proper use. It must fit correctly, allowing clear vision without distortion or obstruction. PPE should be cleaned regularly and replaced if damaged.
  • Incident Reporting: Employers must encourage a culture where employees feel safe to report hazards and incidents without fear of repercussion, in compliance with OSHA standards.
  • Training and Education: Comprehensive training on identifying eye hazards, reducing exposure, and correctly using PPE is essential for workplace safety.

Eye safety is a critical concern across many American industries, with sectors such as construction and welding facing daily risks. Employers are responsible for equipping their teams with the necessary protective gear and knowledge to prevent eye injuries.

How Work Health Solutions Can Support You

Work Health Solutions is dedicated to providing top-tier healthcare solutions for employees and employers. Our experienced team, having worked with diverse clients from academia to Fortune 25 companies, is committed to excellence. Contact us to learn how we can support your occupational health needs.

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Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Oversaw the regional medical practices in key markets like Oregon and Northern California, ensuring consistent, quality medical care and service delivery.
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Dr. Matt Feeley

Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
  • Served with distinction at NSA Bahrain and HSM-37, earning the COMPACFLT Flight Surgeon of the Year award for exceptional medical service.
  • Supported U.S. Marines VMFA-323 aboard the USS Nimitz, MACG-38, and VMU-3, demonstrating versatility and leadership in diverse medical environments.
  • Broad interests and significant contributions in global health, corporate medicine, and aerospace medicine, highlighting his multidisciplinary approach.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic leader, well-equipped to face the challenges in a fractional medical directorship role with innovative solutions.

Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

  • Currently spearheads employee health protection and promotion within the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
  • Trained in residency at Harvard, achieving board certification as a physician; also a licensed patent attorney with experience as FDA regulatory counsel.
  • Co-founded Acceleromics, a consulting firm providing clinical and regulatory guidance to digital health startups.

Erin Davis

 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

  • Oversees clinical operations and ensures high clinical standards across the company’s national field staff.
  • Former Manager of Clinic Operations and Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner at Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).
  • Specialized in treating occupational injuries and illnesses, and provided medical surveillance and travel medicine consults at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.
  • Dedicated to sports and occupational injury treatment and prevention.
  • Assistant Clinical Faculty at UCSF, mentoring students in clinical rotations within the Adult Gerontology and Occupational and Environmental Health Program.
  • Holds leadership roles as Treasurer and President Elect of the California El Camino Real Association of Occupational Health Nurses (CECRAOHN), affiliated with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).

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Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Previous role as Executive Director for Employee Health at Novartis Services, Inc., leading health services and clinical support.
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  • Holds a medical degree from Albert Einstein College, an MPH from the University of Connecticut, and completed training at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
  • Assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vagelos School of Medicine, Columbia University.
  • Serves as a team physician for high school athletes in Stamford.
  • Published works on occupational health risks, primary prevention, and exercise-induced asthma.