The Importance of Eye Safety at Work

Work-related eye injuries impact both employees and employers, from physical and psychological effects to substantial financial costs. With common causes like flying debris, chemicals, radiant energy, and impact injuries, preventing such incidents is crucial. Employers should invest in personal protective equipment (PPE) like safety glasses and face shields, along with safety standards mandating their use. Safe work practices, including regular equipment inspections and proper procedure adherence, are equally vital. Providing comprehensive eye safety training ensures that employees can recognize hazards and respond appropriately. Prioritize eye safety to protect your workers and your company's bottom line.
eye safety

Eye safety in the workplace is crucial for safeguarding employees from potential hazards that can cause serious injuries. This protection involves reducing or eliminating exposure to dangers such as hazardous chemicals, objects that could cause injury through impact, and dangerous radiation levels from sources like UV and laser light. Ensuring eye safety also means equipping employees with the necessary personal protective gear approved by OSHA, such as safety goggles and face shields, alongside providing comprehensive training to identify and handle potential eye dangers effectively. These measures are key to preventing eye-related injuries, allowing employees to carry out their duties in a safe and efficient manner.

Diving into the specifics, we will explore the primary causes of eye injuries in the workplace, their financial implications, and strategies for prevention.

Leading Causes of Eye Injuries in the Workplace

Annually, the workplace is the setting for roughly 20,000 eye injuries, underscoring the need to understand and address the common culprits behind these incidents. The main sources of eye injuries include:

  • Flying Objects: Workplaces, especially in industries like construction, see frequent injuries due to flying objects such as wood chips, metal slivers, and dust particles. These can cause significant harm when propelled by machinery or during tool use.
  • Chemical Exposures: Harmful chemicals present risks across various industries, from heavy engineering to simple office environments. Eye contact with acids, bases, and solvents can lead to serious injuries.
  • Radiant Energy: Occupations that involve exposure to radiant energy sources, including UV, laser, and infrared light, pose a high risk of eye damage. This concern is common for welders, automotive technicians, and laboratory personnel.
  • Impact Injuries: Incidents involving blunt force trauma, such as impacts from falling objects or accidental strikes with tools, can lead to severe eye injuries.

Acknowledging these risks is the first step towards implementing effective safety measures to protect workers’ eyesight.

Financial and Personal Impact of Eye Injuries

The repercussions of occupational eye injuries extend beyond the employees to affect employers significantly.

Physical and Psychological Consequences

The immediate physical impact of eye injuries can range from temporary vision impairment to permanent blindness, with about 10-20% of cases resulting in lasting vision loss. Injuries can also lead to painful conditions like corneal abrasions or even cause disfiguring scars. Beyond the physical pain, these injuries can severely affect mental health, leading to depression or anxiety, especially if the injury leads to long-term disabilities, affecting productivity and morale.

Economic Implications

For employers, the cost of eye injuries is substantial, contributing to a part of the estimated $163.9 billion in total work-related injury costs for 2020, which includes expenses related to medical treatments, lost productivity, and workers’ compensation. These financial burdens underscore the necessity of adopting preventive strategies to mitigate the risk of eye injuries.

Psychological Effects

Work-related eye injuries can take a severe toll on employee mental health. A work-related injury may make some employees experience depression or anxiety, particularly if the injury is severe. Additionally, injuries decrease productivity and employee morale, making it more challenging to retain good workers. 

Financial Costs

The financial costs of an eye injury to the employer may be astronomical. The total work-related injury costs for 2020 were $163.9 billion, including lost productivity. Eye injuries can require extensive medical treatment, including surgery, hospital stays, and rehabilitation. These expenses can be significant, especially if the injury is severe or requires long-term care. Employers may be responsible for paying workers’ compensation benefits to employees who suffer eye injuries.  Finally, injuries can result in decreased productivity for the affected worker and the company.

These financial costs of work-related eye injuries can be substantial, highlighting the importance of taking preventative measures to protect workers’ eyes in the workplace. By implementing effective eye safety programs and providing workers with appropriate protective equipment and training, employers can help minimize the risk of eye injuries and reduce the financial costs associated with these incidents.

Strategies to Prevent Eye Injuries at Work

To safeguard employees from eye injuries, employers should implement comprehensive safety measures, including:

  • Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): It is crucial to equip employees with appropriate eye protection, such as safety goggles and shields, to guard against workplace hazards.
  • Adoption of Safe Work Practices: Employers should enforce machine guards, conduct regular equipment checks, and ensure adherence to safe handling procedures for tools and chemicals to minimize risk.
  • Education and Training: Providing thorough training on eye safety, proper use of PPE, and emergency response procedures is essential for preventing injuries and ensuring a safe work environment.

By taking these proactive steps, employers can not only enhance the safety and well-being of their workforce but also significantly reduce the incidence of eye injuries and the associated financial costs.

How Can We Help?

Work Health Solutions offers comprehensive healthcare solutions for your medical needs. Our qualified team treats patients and employers alike and always provides top-quality service. Our quality service is backed by years of experience working with academic and research institutions, corporate healthcare, Fortune 25 companies, small governments, and local businesses. Reach out today with any questions about how we can assist you!

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Work Health Solutions

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Work Health Solutions is dedicated to preserving a safe work environment and improving existing programs and care for local, regional and national organizations.

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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.
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership in building and mentoring a large medical provider team, enhancing team performance and patient care standards.
  • Implemented strategic company policies and protocols, significantly improving center efficiency, clinical quality, and patient experiences.
  • Played a pivotal role in financial planning and identifying growth opportunities for healthcare services, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
  • Served as a primary point of contact for regional employer clients and insurance companies, fostering strong relationships and effective communication.
  • Maintained high medical care and case management standards through diligent supervision, chart audits, and performance metric analysis.

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).

Dr. Robert Goldsmith

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.
  • Instrumental in creating an integrated healthcare system at Novartis.
  • Former private practice in internal medicine in Stamford, Connecticut, and Medical Director consultant for GTE Corporation.
  • Transitioned to GE as a Global Medical Director in 2000.
  • 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.