Introduction According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 2,000 job related eye injuries that occur every workday. Approximately 1/3 of these injuries require a trip to the hospital emergency room and more than 100 result in time loss from work. Eye injuries are a serious problem. As with most injuries, eye injuries could be prevented with the proper controls, protection and some common sense.
Scope and Application OSHA requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work place for employees. When employees are subjected to various hazards in the workplace that could cause damage to the eyes, all feasible administrative and/or engineering controls must be used to negate the hazard. Where controls are not sufficient, employers must provide appropriate eye protection or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and train employees how to use it properly.
Potential Eye Hazards Whether you work in construction, manufacturing, healthcare or other fields, you are probably at risk of a possible eye injury. The majority of injuries result from small particles or objects striking or abrading the eye. There are many potential eye hazards in the workplace including: • Strain Poor lighting, excessive lighting, long periods of viewing a computer screen and incorrect prescription glasses can all be a source of eye strain. • Impact Flying objects including chips, slivers, sand and dirt caused by a variety of job tasks including chipping, grinding, machining, masonry work, wood working, sawing, drilling, chiseling, powered fastening, riveting, and sanding • Heat Anything emitting extreme heat such as furnace operations, pouring, casting, hot dipping, and welding
Potential Eye Hazards • Chemical Splash, fumes, vapors, and irritating mists caused by such things as acid and chemical handling, degreasing, plating, and working with blood. • Dust Harmful dust which can be created by woodworking, buffing, and general dusty or windy conditions. • Optical Radiation Radiant energy, glare, and intense light caused by welding, torch-cutting, brazing, soldering, and laser work. Employees need not be engaged in a work activity to incur an eye injury. Employees and others can incur injuries by working in close proximity to coworkers engaged in the various work activities which create the hazards listed above.
Hazard Assessment A hazard assessment of each work area must be completed by the employer to determine if hazards exist, or are likely to exist. Documentation of the hazard assessment should identify the workplace evaluated, the person certifying that the assessment has been performed and date(s) of the hazard assessment. Documentation must be in written form.
Hazard Assessment 1. A walk-through of the areas in question should be conducted to identify and record sources of hazards. Dangers should be determined by assessing the tasks involved, the employee performing tasks, and/or group of employees (if all the employees perform identical task). Basic hazard categories that should be considered include but are not limited to: • Impact • Heat • Chemical • Dust • Light (Optical) Radiation
Hazard Assessment 2. Data and information obtained during walk-through should be organized and analyzed to enable proper selection of eye protection. Each hazard should be reviewed and a determination made as to the type, level of risk, and seriousness of potential injury from each hazard found. The possibility of multiple hazards occurring simultaneously must also be considered. • If hazards exist or are likely to exist, then the employer must: • Provide eye protection that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the assessment; • Communicate selection decisions to each affected employee; and • Select eye protection that properly fits each affected employee and ensure the employee uses the PPE
Eye Safety Protection Program An Eye Safety Protection Program is necessary to protect employees from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment. The program should at least include selection, fit testing, maintenance and care, and training. A. Selection There are different types of eye and face protection. It is important to understand the difference and purpose of the various types of eye protection. Glasses or Spectacles • Purpose is to shield employee’s eyes from a variety of hazards. Different lenses are required depending upon the hazard. Employees are required to use safety glasses with side shields when there is a hazard from flying objects. Non-shield glasses are not acceptable eye protection for impact hazards. • Safety glass frames can be constructed of metal and/or plastic. Corrective (Rx) or plano impact-resistant lenses can be used. Additionally, side shields may be incorporated into the frames when needed.
Eye Safety Protection Program Goggles • Goggles shield the wearer’s eyes from impact, heat, chemical, and dust hazards depending upon the type of lenses, frame and ventilation. Goggles fit the face immediately surrounding the eyes and form a protective seal around the eyes. This prevents objects from entering under or around the goggles. • Safety goggles may incorporate prescription lenses mounted behind protective lenses for individuals requiring vision correction. • Safety goggle frames must be properly fitted to the employee’s face to form a protective seal around the eyes. Poorly fitted goggles will not offer the necessary protection. • Some goggles may be worn directly over prescription lenses without any issues. • Ventilated goggles allow air circulation while providing protection against airborne particles, dust, liquids, or light.
Eye Safety Protection Program Face Shields • Face shields are considered secondary protectors to be used in addition to primary protection such as safety spectacles or goggles. • Face shield windows are made with different transparent materials and in varying degrees or levels of thickness. These levels should correspond with specific tasks. Window and headgear devices are available in various combinations to enable the worker to select the appropriate equipment. • Face shield windows extend from the brow to below the chin and across the entire width of the face. • Headgear supports the window shield and secures the device to the head. Other Types • Other types of eye protection include welding helmets, hoods, and special purpose lenses. • Used for such work activities as welding, torch cutting, and laser work.
Eye Safety Protection Program Criteria • Eye and face protection must comply with the American National Standards Institute, ANSI Z87.1-1989 standard • Eye and face PPE must be clearly marked to facilitate identification of the manufacturer. • The following minimum requirements must be met by all protective devices. Protectors must: • Provide adequate protection against the particular hazards for which they are designed • Be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed • Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions • Fit snugly and not unduly interfere with the movements of the wearer • Be durable • Be easily cleanable • Be capable of being disinfected
Eye Safety Protection Program It is important to note eye protection must meet the criteria for usage for the hazard(s) it is used to protect against. The eye protector may “look” appropriate for the hazard but in reality may not provide the correct protection. For instance: lenses can be clear, tinted, photochromic or polarized. Each type offers different levels of protection. Lenses can be tinted and still provide no protection. Don’t be fooled by the color of the lenses. Check the PPE manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure proper usage and protection.
Eye Safety Protection Program Fitting • Comfort and fit should be considered when using eye and face PPE. • Poorly fitting PPE will not offer the necessary protection. • Goggles and safety glasses should be fitted by someone skilled in the procedure. • PPE with adjustable features should be fitted on an individual basis to ensure a comfortable fit that maintains the device in the proper position. • Prescription safety glasses should be fitted only by qualified optical personnel. • Eye protection from dust and chemical splash should form a protective seal when fitted. • Welding helmets and face shields must be properly fitted to ensure they will not fall off during work operations.
Eye Safety Protection Program Maintenance and Care • All PPE must be used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition. • Use of PPE with structural or optical defects is prohibited. • Pitted and/or dirty lenses can reduce vision. Clean or replace as necessary. Deeply scratched or excessively pitted lenses are likely to break. • Slack, worn, sweat-soaked or twisted headbands do not hold the eye protector in the proper position. A visual inspection will determine if the headband elasticity is reduced to a point beyond correct function. • Atmospheric conditions and the restricted ventilation of the protector can cause lenses to fog. Frequent cleansing may be necessary. • Eye and face protection equipment should be cleaned and disinfected after being used and before being issued to another employee.
Eye Safety Protection Program • Eye and face protection assigned to employees for extended periods should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. • Several methods for disinfecting eye protective equipment are possible. It is best to disassemble the goggles or glasses and thoroughly clean all parts with soap and warm water. • Carefully rinse all traces of soap and replace defective parts as necessary. • Swab thoroughly or completely and immerse all parts for 10 minutes in a solution of germicidal deodorant fungicide. • Remove parts from solution and suspend in a clean place for air drying at room temperature or with heated air. • Do not rinse after removing parts from the solution because this will remove the germicidal residue that retains its effectiveness after drying.
Eye Safety Protection Program • PPE should be stored in an appropriate manner when not in use. Place in a clean, dust-proof container until needed. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for additional storage rules. • Treat safety glasses in the same manner you would your own glasses since the frame, nose pads, and temples can be damaged by rough usage.
Eye Safety Protection Program Training • Employees required to use eye protection must be properly trained. They should know at least the following: • When eye protection is necessary • What eye protection is necessary • How to put on, adjust, wear and take off • Limitations of the eye protection • Proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the eye protection
Eye Safety Protection Program • Training should be conducted by a knowledgeable and experienced person and presented in a manner the employee can understand. Each affected employee must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the training and the ability to use the eye protection properly before being allowed to perform the work requiring the use of the eye protection. • Employers, who allow their employees to wear eye and face protection on a voluntary basis when not required by OSHA or the employer, must implement limited provisions of a Eye Safety Protection Program. For all other voluntary users, an additional written eye and face protection program that covers proper maintenance procedures must be implemented.
Eye Safety Protection Program • The employer is required to retrain employees when: • Changes in the workplace render previous training obsolete; • Changes in the types of eye protection to be used render previous training obsolete; or • Inadequacies in an affected employee's knowledge or use of assigned eye protection indicate the employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill. • The employer must verify each affected employee has received and understood the required training via written certification. The certificate should contain the name of each employee trained, date of training, and subject of training.
Contacts and Prescription Lenses • Employers must ensure employees who wear prescription (Rx) lenses or contacts use PPE that incorporates the prescription or use eye protection that can be worn over prescription lenses. • Employees who wear prescription glasses must also wear eye protection when required. Eye and face protection is available which fits over glasses. Safety goggles and glasses can be used which incorporate prescription lenses. • Dust and chemicals present additional hazards to contact wearers. It is recommended that employees keep an extra pair of contacts or eyeglasses available “just in case”.
Emergencies If an eye injury occurs, quick action can prevent a permanent disability. For this reason: • Employers should establish a first aid plan in the event of an eye injury. • Emergency eyewashes should be placed in all hazardous areas. • First-aid instructions should be posted close to potential danger spots. • Employees must know where the closest eyewash station is and how to get there with restricted vision. • Employees should be trained to know the correct procedures to follow in the event of an accident, the proper function of the emergency eyewash and how to flush the eye(s). Employees should report accidents to their supervisor as quickly as possible. Seek medical attention immediately if an eye injury has occurred. Time is important when your sight or that of your coworker is at stake. Even if the injury is minor, report it and let trained medical professionals determine the proper care. Your company will provide detailed instructions on who to call and where to report accidents and injuries.