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Toolbox Talk - Eye Injuries

10,000+ incidences a year of this type of injury (and yet VERY preventable)

ACC Statistics 

How common are they and what kinds of industries suffer from them: Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. ACC statistics for the last couple of years indicate there have been over 10,000 injuries each year to the eye or area immediately surrounding the eye.

The two biggest industry groups with eye injuries in New Zealand over this time were the building trades (18%) and metal works/machinery industries (22%). This is a disturbing figure as most eye injuries are preventable. 

There is no question that our eyes are extremely fragile, and it is important to protect them.

Many eye injuries do not occur because we failed to wear safety glasses. In fact, many eye injuries occur when safety glasses are being used i.e.

  1. Glasses being worn improperly. Wearing glasses down on the nose will not properly protect the eyes. This often happens when your safety glasses are too dirty, scratched, or fogged up. Take care of your glasses and replace them when necessary.
  2. Even when glasses are worn properly, ‘cutting’ your eyes and looking over the top of your glasses creates an opening for debris to fall. Bend your neck and look directly at your work.
  3. When operating a drill just above the ground, we often need to turn it sideways. The vent from the gun can easily blow dust or metal shavings on the ground up into your eye.
  4. When lifting any kind of material overhead, debris on the material often falls off and into the eye. Even with glasses on, debris from above can easily fall behind your glasses.
  5. Remember, we work in hot conditions and we all tend to sweat. If you do not keep your face, especially your forehead, clean, the perspiration can easily ‘wash’ debris into your eye.
  6. Along that same line, we often reach up and wipe the sweat from our eyes with our hands. Many times, debris from your hand is rubbed into the eye.
  7. Working in windy conditions, (i.e. window openings, elevator shafts, fans, etc.). Wind blows debris into the air as well as into the eye.
  8. When cutting metal or screwing overhead, the metal shavings often fly or fall onto our hardhats, settle on the top of our safety glasses or on the full- face shields we use. When we take our hat off or raise the face-shield, the debris falls directly over the eyes. You should always bend over, take your hardhat, glasses or face shield off, and clean them before you proceed.

Preventing all eye injuries depends on all of us being aware of the many possibilities of exposures, recognizing them, and taking the proper steps to eliminate the exposure.