Toolbox Talk – Eye Safety

The Most Common Causes of Eye Injuries

Eye injuries can be caused by many hazards in the workplace and when carrying out dangerous jobs such as welding. Some of the most common hazards are:

  • Flying dust and debris – this can be caused by yourself or a co-worker sanding or working with equipment that omits dust and debris.

  • Exposure to dangerous chemicals – this is caused by chemicals and other dangerous substances becoming airborne and coming into contact with your eyes.

  • UV exposure – this can be caused by being exposed to welding or working outside in the sun.

  • Blunt trauma to the eyes – this can be caused by hazards such as falling objects or parts of machinery that stick out.

  • Heat exposure to the eyes – this can be caused by getting too close to a co-worker welding or to machinery that emits hot air.

How to Avoid Eye Injuries

These are some great tips for avoiding eye injuries in the workplace:

  • Identify hazards – before carrying out a task, make sure that you identify all of the potential hazards that could cause eye injuries. For every hazard that you identify, put in place safeguards to remove the risk. This can be as simple as doing the job outdoors instead of indoors, or it might be something complicated like having to evacuate all other employees from the worksite while you do the job. If you cannot eliminate major risks or are unsure, stop the job immediately and consult a supervisor.

  • Wear correct PPE – always make sure that you wear the approved personal protection equipment (PPE) when carrying out a job where there is a potential risk of eye injuries. According to research, 3 out of 5 eye injuries are caused by people not wearing the correct PPE. Eye safety PPE includes safety glasses, face shields, and goggles. The exact type depends on the job you are doing. For example, when welding, you need to wear a welding face shield, and when working with dangerous chemicals, you should wear goggles that fully protect your eyes.

  • Protect your co-workers – if carrying out a job such as welding, make sure that you put proper barriers up so that your co-workers can avoid UV exposure. If you are going to be carrying out a job where there might be a danger to your co-workers, make sure that you inform them before commencing the job.

  • Follow Emergency Procedures. If something does, unfortunately, get into your eyes, don’t rub or scratch your eye. If you do, rub or scratch your eye it can make the damage much worse. The correct procedure is to go to your nearest eyewash station or use a saline bottle to rinse your eye out and if necessary, seek medical treatment. If you wear contact lenses, remove them before rinsing your eyes out.

Key Takeaways

  • You only have one pair of eyes, so protect them!

  • Eye injuries can be very difficult to heal and can have a lasting impact on your ability to work.

  • Before starting a job, identify any hazards that could pose a risk to your eye safety and then eliminate those risks.

  • Always wear the appropriate PPE for the job you are doing.

  • Remember that it’s not just your safety that is at stake—make sure you evaluate and eliminate any risks to your co-workers.

  • If an accident happens, make sure that you follow the correct emergency procedures.

  • If you’re not sure about anything to do with eye safety, ask a supervisor!


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