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Simple Solution to Serious Eye Injuries

April 14, 2015 by Global Administrator

In last week’s, Easy Ways to Stop Slips, Trips, and Falls we looked at some preventive measures you can take to avoid slips and falls that lead to serious employee injury. In this second installment of our three week tutorial on preventing injury, we examine three items that will help you eliminate eye injuries from occurring.

In many cases, safety glasses can be effective in regards to eye protection. However, they are not always the complete answer.  Eye injury can be very serious, yet it is easily preventable with just a few precautions.

-Do your Own Hazard Assessment

What in the shop causes eye injuries?  If you are sitting at your desk attempting to make a list, then you are not doing a proper hazard assessment.  It is necessary to get out into the shop, observe tool usage, and ask the employees for their input.  Ask yourself the necessary questions: does equipment in the shop need to be replaced or upgraded? Does your fixed equipment, such as the brake lathe, have a guard to eliminate chips from flying at the operator?   Many service centers are eliminating bench grinders because they are seldom used and are also known for causing eye injuries.  Eliminating an unnecessary bench grinder is a quick an easy way to eliminate a potential eye or hand injury. Ask yourself, are the employees using compressed air for cleaning?  If so, are they regulating that air pressure to a low psi?  If not, they need to be. Under the OSHA Instruction STD 1-13.1, formerly OSHA Program Directive 100-1, it states operational conditions for air pressure must fall below 30 psi.  Air guns can also be equipped with chip guards, which will act as an extra line of defense. 

-Eye/Face Protection Policy

Let’s talk safety glasses.  It is not a good idea to just hand out safety glasses to employees and not give them any direction.  This act would be doomed from the start.  In order to get consistent with safety glasses usage you must start with a written policy.  The policy gives the manager the backbone in addressing any issues that arise after the policy is implemented.  A thorough policy would include the following:                       

  • Where must eye protection be used?
    • That whole service shop must be an eye protection use area
  • No one is exempt when in the shop facility.
    • The only way any policy works is if it is approved and implemented by top level management. Lower level employees will be much less likely to follow regulations if top management does not adhere to policy themselves. Even the President/CEO must be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Eye protection can be obtained from where?
    • Provide boxes of safety glasses near required use zones
  • What is the option for employees wearing prescription glasses?
    • Once again the cost for prescription safety glasses will pay for themselves if they eliminate one trip to the doctor for an eye related injury.
  • Will inspections be conducted for eye protection use?
  • Will there be discipline for not wearing the glasses?
  • Will there be positive incentives for wearing safety glasses?
  • What are the procedures for an eye injury?
    • Where is the eye wash station?
    • Where is the first aid kit?
    • How do you apply eye dressings?
  • Injury Reporting Procedures

Providing Comfortable Style

It is important to provide a style of safety glasses that will eliminate an employee’s reservation for using them.  Look into different styles.  Don’t go with the cheapest set unless you want this attempt at eliminating eye injuries to fail. There are many different styles that include anti-fog, glare resistant, stylish, lightweight, and even bifocals.

Extra protection for the face is also important to write into the policy.  Certain procedures such as grinding must require a set of safety glasses to be used along with a face shield.

Another tool that can be used in a successful PPE policy is making the use of PPE a part of your employees (and managers) performance reviews.  You cannot penalize an employee pay for not wearing safety glasses, but you can take it into consideration during performance reviews, which (in some cases) effects bonuses and wage increases.  Each employee should be observed for PPE use during a daily or weekly time frame.  Devise a weekly checklist that your managers can use to monitor for PPE use.  A checklist provides indisputable documentation that leaves no room for any dispute at a performance review.

Train Them!

Be clear when communicating the content of the safety policy to your employees. Again, attendance rosters will help to shorten up communication to all employees.  Make certain employees understand that the use of PPE their PPE use performance will be measured.  Transparency is very important in this instance as they will have to be measured or else the process will fail. In this case measuring means consistently gathering data and performing the daily or weekly spot checks for the protective equipment.  Go over all the hazards in the shop that will specifically cause eye injuries as well as train the employees on the certain processes that will require protective equipment.  If a new service bulletin comes out, don’t skip over the safety equipment section, but enforce that section and make sure employees understand that your stance on using the protective equipment is mandatory.  When getting the point across about how eye protection can affect an employee personally, a good method is to take a few individuals into a safe training area, blind fold them, and ask them to do a simple task like find the exit door or sweep the floor.  See how they react and remind them that serious eye injuries could lead to permanent loss of eye sight.  Finally, train the employees on handling an eye injury. Be clear about what procedures need to be taken.  Many times debris caught in the eye does not become serious until a person rubs the eye lid around in a harmful attempt to clear the remains.  Instruct employees on the eye wash station and display the activation of the unit.

Eye injury is a very serious type of injury, and detrimental not only to employees, but also to your business. Take action now and avoid paying the cost of an employee’s permanent health. Don’t look back after an eye injury and wish you would have applied those principles in that that blog on preventing eye injury. Take action now and protect your future self.

If you would like to learn more about preventing injuries at the workplace, Are Some Hand Injuries Unavoidable And join next week’ installment on avoiding hand injury.  

For further information on how you can implement more workplace safety strategies, adding accident tracking and management software, or implementing facility audits and safety training courses, please contact your KPA representative or email [email protected]

Posted in: Environmental Health and Safety Tags: Eye injuries, eye protection, prevent injury, protective glasses, Safety Training