Eye Health in the Workplace

Stuart Spooner

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17 Sep 2019

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On average 1000 injuries occur to people’s eyes every day.[1]

The best way to prevent them is with suitable risk assessments and the implementation of sufficient eye protection.

Eye health – low level to life changing injury

Causes of eye injury

There are lots of potential causes of eye injury. Some won’t be a risk in your industry, but every industry has at least one risk to eye health. Here’s a few of them:

  • Using drills, hammers, chisels and other percussive type tools
  • Compressed air and other gasses, liquids and vapours under pressure
  • Debris ejecting tools such as abrasive wheels
  • Working with tools that will result in chippings / chinks breaking away such as breakers and peckers
  • Welding equipment emitting ultraviolet light
  • Use of computer equipment (eye focus)
  • Handling or contact with corrosive or other harmful substances
  • Cutting of materials under tension such as banding (i.e. pallet banding or brick / block banding) or wire
  • Allergies such as food, detergents, perfumes and other substances

Avoiding eye injury

Accidents that result in eye injuries could be avoided by the simple implementation of and enforcement of suitable health & safety practices.

Below are just some of the basic measures that employers can implement to mitigate the risk of any potential eye injuries in the workplace:

  • Undertake suitable and sufficient risk assessments and review these regularly to reduce the potential for harm in the first place.
  • Make sure tasks are as safe as possible, having mitigation measures (such as guarding) in place will pay dividends.
  • Review personal protective equipment (PPE) and best practice regularly, as they can (and will) be improved as better safety measures are developed.
  • Provide employees with any identified personal protective equipment and ensure they wear it at all times required. Things such as safety glasses, safety goggles, face shields, air fed hoods. If in doubt always seek professional advice.
  • For display screen equipment and eye strain, encourage your staff to vary their work to allow the eye time to adjust. Various studies have shown that simply allowing the eye to refocus for 10 minutes every hour has shown significant reduction in eye-related issues.
  • The installation of vision friendly display screens and suitable lighting is essential in mitigation eye strain risks.
  • Provide suitable training for any mitigations in place, and repeat training if necessary
  • Ensure quality first aid provisions are available. For example, keep eyebaths well maintained and ready to use at all times.

When it comes to eye injuries, prevention is always better than the alternative.

The law

If you need more information on the law surrounding eye health in the workplace, you can refer to the following:

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Act 1999
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992
  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Expert support

If you're concerned about the eye health of your employees, or have a health & safety query you'd like answering, speak to a Croner expert today on 01455 858 132.

 

[1] Source – The Construction Industry Training Board CITB

About the Author

A Health, Safety, Environmental, Quality and Security management professional for over 19 years, Stuart has worked for a number of well-known blue chip companies reaching senior director level and holding global responsibility for a range of clients within the public and private sectors including Her Majesty's Government joining Croner in October 2018.

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