According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are thousands of employees who get eye injuries or become blind work eye injuries at work. Eye injuries cost employers over $300 million a year in loss of production from these injuries and workers’ compensation, and this doesn’t even begin to explain the danger and risk to the face in general. Eye and face protection is crucial in the workplace and starts with the protective equipment you provide your employees.
Types of Hazards
There are different hazards in the workplace that can risk your worker’s face and eyes. This includes impact hazards which come from particles, fragments, sand, dirt or other flying objects, heat hazards from occupations working with high levels of heat, chemical hazards such as vapors, fumes and mists that can irritate the eyes, harmful dust to the face and eyes from working with wood or buffing, and optical radiation hazards such as glare and radiant energy that are common among employees who solder, braze or weld.
Types of Protective Equipment
Aside from being sure your employees are working in a safe working environment and are aware of proper OSHA protocol, bar none, they should also have access to protective equipment. For the eyes and face, this is the best protection available when working in any of the above hazards. The following equipment is the most important:
Safety Glasses – If your employees need minimal protection because of a small amount of particles or dust, safety glasses are best. The glasses should be prescription glasses for employees who wear glasses on a regular basis and don’t have contacts in. Be sure the safety glasses have an anti-fog treatment and side shields.
Safety Goggles – In occupations where chemicals, impact, dust and dirt are more of a risk, get safety goggles. These will be able to resist impact from flying objects and prevent dangerous chemicals from getting into the eye. They have a solid shield around the entire eye, not just in the front. They are also large enough to be worn over the employee’s eyeglasses.
Face Shields – To protect the worker’s face from heat, pathogens or chemicals, provide them with a face shield. This should be in addition to eye protection such as goggles, not in place of them. Face shields are combined with the safety goggles for additional protection of their face.
Helmets – Additional face protection includes the use of a helmet when heavy objects are a risk or welding with molten materials. This provides full eye, face and head protection.
Preventing Eye and Face Injuries
To prevent eye and face injuries, supply this safety equipment and be sure they fit properly. If they don’t fit, get another size for the employee and don’t put them at risk. Safety glasses and goggles should rest on the top of the nose and be a firm fit. Additionally, train your employees on safety protection and hazards in the workplace, using the latest in OSHA standards and practices. Have safety equipment maintained and updated on a regular basis.
Taking these steps can protect employees’ eyes and face as well as keeping you from being liable for injuries. You should also have business insurance as accidents do happen, including general liability insurance and worker’s compensation.