The construction industry including environmental construction practices report the highest number of occupational hazards and not surprisingly the maximum number of injuries as well. Among the various types of injuries that construction workers endure, hurting the eyes is quite common. Most activities in the construction industry such as drilling, chipping, nailing, overhead work, buffing, metal work, concrete work, crushing, sanding, sawing, woodwork, painting, cement mixing and sand blasting can potentially damage the eyes.
A study conducted in 2007 shows that almost 97% of sand induced eye injuries were due to non- usage of protective eye gear(1) at the time when the accident occurred. Further investigations revealed that use of drills and hand augers caused more injuries to the right eye than the left one(1).
Adequate protection and safety equipment save eyes from flying objects, dust, sand, glare, sparks, molten metal, radiation and heat. Optimal eye protection is the one that comes with face shield so both; the face as well as eyes are safe.
Availability of a diverse range of eye protectors gives workers an opportunity to keep their eyes safe through most construction activities. When looking for a protective eye cover, make sure –
It has side shields to maximally cover the eyes giving all round protection. The shape of each individual's face is unique implying that one size of eye protectors does not fit all. Look for safety glasses that completely seal the eyes providing maximum protection.
It adjusts suitably around the head. For this purpose, some protective goggles have flexible headbands so users can fit them properly.
It has direct or indirect ventilation to prevent fogging. Individuals using contact lenses do not need ventilated safety glasses.
- It is made of industrial strength frames and glasses.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), organizations involved in construction and development must provide safety glasses to their employees(2). In addition, OSHA recommends easy access to an eyewash station where workers on experiencing an eye injury can go and immediately wash their eyes. Rinsing eyes with cool running water is especially helpful in case of sand related eye injuries. Quick accessibility to an eye specialist is also vital.
Aside from construction companies providing appropriate eye safety gadgets, construction workers too must take responsibility for the health and safety of their eyes. In any case, protective glasses are quite inexpensive making it easy to purchase them. Eye safety can be dramatically improved by –
Always wearing protective glasses. For those using prescription glasses, protective eye wear should fit over the regular spectacles. Alternatively, prescription safety glasses can also be made to order.
- Using protection that matches the construction task. Studies indicate that eye injuries frequently occur when workers use inappropriate safety glasses. This means merely wearing eye protection is not sufficient. In most cases, workers are unaware of job specific protective gear. Appropriate training is critical for this purpose.
Equally important is to take care of your protective eye gear. Simple steps in maintaining protective eye gear are –
Regular checks to look for loose lenses, cracks, scratches, worn out headbands and other run down parts.
Cleaning eye covers with water after use. Wiping the protective goggles clean with a piece of cloth causes dust particles to have an abrasive action on the glasses.
- Keeping glasses in their case when not in use.
Understand that manufacturing limitations of even the best eye protection may not provide 100% safety. However, using eye gear most appropriate for the given task in addition to following the recommended safety procedures minimizes damage to the eyes while maximizing loss prevention.
At Rice General, we are extremely concerned about the health and safety of our employees. Minimizing eye injuries at worksite are our training efforts, use of latest, best fitting and work appropriate eye protective gear, and adherence to government regulations.
- Science Direct–Safety Science: Factors associated with construction worker eye injuries, as on January 28, 2010.
- Eye Injuries in Construction, as on January 30, 2010.