800,000 Eye Injuries Occur Annually, 90% are Preventable

March 5, 2008
Every year, 800,000 eye injuries occur on the job, including 36,000 that require time off from work. But according to eye health and safety organization Prevent Blindness America, wearing proper eye protection can prevent 90 percent of all eye injuries.

Common causes of workplace eye injuries include chemical burns, cuts, lacerations and punctures. These injuries most frequently occur in production, transportation and service industries.

“Our vision is something that so many people take for granted until it’s damaged,” said Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America. “We hope to encourage employers and employees to make sure that eye protection is on the ‘to do’ list every day.”

Prevent Blindness America recommends the following methods and actions to reduce and prevent eye injuries in the workplace:

  • Be aware of potential eye safety hazards at work and complete an eye hazard assessment.
  • Appropriate safety glasses or goggles should be worn at all times whenever eye hazards are present.
  • Be sure all safety eyewear is clearly marked “ANSI Z87.”
  • Workers should know the location of the nearest eye wash station and should be trained in its use.
  • Employers should be notified immediately if safety hazards are discovered.
  • Employees should have regular eye exams to make sure their vision is adequate to work safely.
  • Employees with reduced vision should ask if prescription glasses or goggles can be provided.

According to the Department of Labor, eye injuries are responsible for an estimated loss of $300 million annually in lost production time, medical expenses and workers’ compensation.

“Not only does practicing eye safety at work make good business sense, most importantly, it is integral in ensuring the health of employees, which is any company’s most valuable asset,” Garrett said.

Prevent Blindness America manages the Wise Owl Eye Safety Recognition Program, a campaign recognizing those who follow eye safety standards every day. The organization also designated March as Workplace Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. Visit http://www.preventblindness.org for more information.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

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