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The department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1,000 eye injuries occur daily in the workplace. A workplace eye injury can be extremely painful and can cause lingering or permanent vision damage. Sawdust, cement, or drywall can easily irritate the eye if one is not wearing any eye protection. It’s so important to be cautious of this and to have the proper eye protection on when you are working at a construction site. 

Importance of wearing safety glasses

So, what are the big threats to cause an eye injury? The top 4 items are listed below : 

1)   Penetration injuries : Flying objects can come from tasks like chipping, drilling, sanding, sawing, chiseling, etc. As a result, objects like nails, staples, wood, metal, and more can fly though the air and penetrate one’s eyeball. This injury is extremely painful and can cause serious damage like permanent blindness.

2)   Small Particles : Small floating particles such as dust is hard to avoid at any construction site and will get into your eye if you aren’t wearing eye protection. In addition to dust, other particles like dirt, sand, cement chips, wood chips, etc. can also irritate your eye. If any of the following do get into your eye and it becomes itchy, try to resist the urge… it can make it worse. As an alternative, lift your upper eyelid over the the lashes of your bottom lid and blink several times in attempt to let the tears flush out the dust particles naturally. You may need to seek medical attention if this does not help and the irritation is still there. 

3)   Chemical burns : Damage from chemicals is one of the more dangerous eye hazards for construction industry workers. Chemicals or fumes can occur from splashes, vapors, fumes, or mists in the work environment. In the case chemicals do get into your eye it is important to immediately go to the emergency eyewash station and flush your eyes with cold water for 15 min. Then, seek medical attention. 

4) Thermal burns : Working in construction requires being around high temperatures. Exposure of high heat levels can result in burns due to splashes of metal or hot sparks. Casting, furnace operations, hot dipping, and pouring are all examples of where burn injuries in general and to the eye could occur. If you are exposed to heat hazards, it is vital to wear eye protection or goggles. A burn injury to the eye could permanently impair a worker and cause permanent blindness. 

The action you take after you suffer an eye injury is super important and knowing how to respond in the event an injury happens can help control the situation. It is crucial to not try to remove anything from your eye because you can cause more damage if done incorrectly. Also, avoid itching and rubbing the eye because this can also make the damage worse. Try covering the eye with a cloth until medics arrive. 

Action you should take on your own is using an emergency eyewash station if you have chemicals in your eye. Also, you can apply ice to the eye if you suffered an eye injury from impact of a tool hitting your eye and nothing got in the eye. 

So, how can eye injuries be prevented? The most important and obvious solution is to always wear protective eyewear. Safety glasses can prevent 90 percent of critical eye injuries. The condition of the glasses and making sure they fit your face is also super important. Many workers complain that goggles or glasses slip off and annoy them. Therefore, workers should make sure that their goggles/glasses fit securely and will not move around. This may sound simple and not necessary to point out, but it is often not taken seriously and thousands of workers suffer from eye injuries each year because of it. 

Also, get in the habit of cleaning off your glasses and wiping the dust as frequently as possible. Be sure to never rub your eyes with dusty gloves or dirty hands. If you are working in zone or passing through an area where eye hazards can occur, use proper eye protection where there is a chance of injury. All of these super simple tips can make a great difference when it comes to eye injury prevention. 

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