Useful First Aid Tips for Workplace Eye Hazards

Article provided by courtesy of Honeywell Industrial Safety

In the age of blue screens, a lifetime of healthy vision seems like an impossible goal.  But this seems even more challenging for people working in environments rigged with eye hazards.

Workplace eye injuries are most common in oil and petroleum refineries, chemical storage facilities, high-dust environments and waste disposal areas.  Flying objects, tools, sand and dust particles, chemicals, vapors and radiation are only a few of the common hazards that put eyesight at risk.

More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day in the US, according to OSHA.  And roughly one in 10 of these individuals requires one or more workdays to recover.

That is why proper and immediate treatment of an eye injury is imperative.
So, here are 5 eye emergency situations and how to treat them correctly:

Chemical Burns
In case of contact with caustics, acids, solvents and other chemical substances, ANSI recommends rinsing the affected area immediately – within the first 10-15 seconds.  Eyes need to be rinsed for 15 minutes at a rate of 0.4 gallon per minute.  Recommended temperatures is between 60-199 F, to avoid exacerbating the chemical reaction.

That’s why emergency eyewash stations should be located within walking distance from a potentially hazardous area, at the same height level and with no obstructions.  The area should be well-lit and marked with signage for fast identification.

In case a spec of dirt clouds your vision, avoid rubbing the eye and wait for natural tears to wash the object out.  Try lifting the upper lid outward and look down over the lower lid.   You can also use eyewash to wash it out.  But be careful, the flushing fluid used should always be sterile to guarantee safe and efficient treatment.

Buffered, sterile saline is the safest ophthalmic flushing fluid for two reasons: its properties are physiologically compatible with human tears and secondly, it is devoid of impurities.  These attributes minimize the likelihood of irritation, infection or allergic reaction and maximize the chance for a positive outcome.  But ultimately, objects in the eye can be prevented via protective eyewear – safety glasses, goggles or face shields.

View our line of Honeywell safety glasses for top of the line style,
protection, and comfort in eye protection.

A direct blow to the eye can damage the eyeball, the supporting muscles and ligaments and the eyelid. The first step to take is to gently apply a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling.  If you still experience pain with eye movements, double or blurry vision, discoloration of one eye or bloody eyes, it’s best to seek emergency medical care.

Cuts, Scratches and Punctures
The painful situation of a cut requires urgent medical attention.  Some problems, like a detached retina can only be identified after a medical examination.  After the incident, shield or cover the eye with care, being careful to not put any extra pressure or remove the foreign object yourself.

UV rays can burn your eyes.  A flash burn is a painful inflammation of the cornea, usually caused by exposure to UV light.  Welding torches are known for creating this type of undetectable radiation commonly known as “snow blindness” or “welder’s flash”.  This inflammation generates pain, tearing and reddening of the eye and its membranes, “sand in the eye” sensation, and abnormal sensitivity to light.

Thus, welding safety gear is not something to be neglected, despite comfort or fit issues.  The latest generation of welding helmets have auto-darkening filters that adjust to the type of welding application being performed.  When an arc flash is struck, it will block UV and IR rays.

For less hazardous types of welding, such as torch bracing, light electric, and spot welding, goggles with a shade of 5.0 can be convenient.  Safety glasses equipped with 1.7 to 3.0 lenses also can be useful in situations in which sparks and spatter are not a concern.  Goggles and side shields offer even more protection.

Need more information on workplace safety?  Contact a Safety Products Inc Safety Specialist for Honeywell products and services that prevent injuries and save lives at work.

Join us in our vision of working together to make America safe!  #makeamericasafe

View another Honeywell provided article on the SPI blog:   Which Safety Leading Indicators Improve Site Safety Performance?


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