Your eyes are your windows to exploring the life around you… so it’s best not take them for granted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day, an estimated 2,000 workers suffer eye injuries on the job, which not only robs many of their sight, but also costs employers and insurance companies millions of dollars a year.
Eye injuries are more likely to occur when eye protection isn't worn. Risk for eye injuries can increase greatly depending on the job and task, and in the summer, eyes are even more at risk with more work being done outdoors in the sun. High-hazard job industries that expose workers to a variety of eye hazards include oil and gas, utility-related work, and construction.
Oil and gas- For oil and gas workers, summer means intense and prolonged exposure to sunlight and extreme temperatures in environments that are dry, humid, windy, and/or dirty, as well job sites filled with mobile equipment. Finding comfortable eyewear that protects against dust, grime, chemicals, and fogging while also delivering a wide unobstructed view is imperative. Using anti-dust and anti-fog sprays will help prevent buildup on safety glasses.
Utility - The most common hazard that utility workers face is accidental exposure to arc flash. This can cause temporary or permanent eye damage or even blindness. For these workers, eye protection with tinted lenses is recommended. Other hazards include exposure to coal dust, creating the need for sealed eyewear, and working both indoors and outdoors, which subjects workers to low-light and high-light conditions in one work period. Solutions for this type of work include adjustable lenses according to light exposure or providing two pairs of glasses, one for indoor and one for outdoor.
Construction - Construction workers often perform several job tasks during one day on the job, each posing different eye hazards, such as chemicals, flying objects, and exposure. Summer months bring additional risks including UV, bright light, glare, and humidity. Eyewear should be selected and worn based on the hazard - with appropriate face cover and lenses.
Eye Safety Regulation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of eye and face protection whenever there is a reasonable probability of injury that could be prevented by such equipment. Personal protective eye-wear such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full face respirators must be used depending on the type of eye hazard that exists. Here are some tips on using the right eyewear for your worksite:
- Make sure you have properly fitted protection. For example, if your safety glasses slip, or are crooked or too tight, adjust them.
- Keep your protective equipment clean to improve visibility. Wash it regularly with mild soap and water or eyeglass cleaner. Polish with a soft cloth or tissue.
- Store your protective equipment carefully to avoid damage when not in use. Any damage to lenses or shields can lessen the impact-resistance and result in inadequate protection.
By understanding that environmental conditions lead to increased eye hazards, you can select the eyewear that is best for your worksite. Don’t be blinded by bad habits - make sure your workers' eyes are prepared to work in summer conditions.
Stay safe out there!