Image of title: "Prevent Blindness, Bringing Americans to Eye Care"

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month—a time to take a fresh look at preventing eye injuries at work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that around 2,000 workplace eye injuries requiring medical care occur every day in the United States. About 20% of these injuries result in missing one or more workdays to recover, with 10-20% causing temporary or permanent vision loss.

The most common workplace eye injuries are from airborne particles and objects that strike, scrape, or penetrate the eyes. Chemical, thermal, and flash burns also cause many eye injuries. Welders, power tools, and solvents are major sources of such injuries.  

The best way to prevent workplace eye injuries is to have a company safety program that identifies, assesses, eliminates, and controls hazards that can cause such injuries. Your program should include performing job hazard analyses that identify eye injury hazards and prevention solutions. Providing safe equipment and tools, proper lighting, machine guarding, and employee training can prevent many kinds of eye injuries.

In addition, Washington State workplace safety rules require employers to provide appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers who are exposed to eye injury hazards. Depending on the specific hazard, PPE selection may include:

  • Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses
  • Goggles
  • Eye protection with side shields
  • Face shields
  • Welding helmets
  • Full-face respirators

PPE must meet current American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 standards. The International Safety Equipment Association’s Eye and Face Protection Selection Guide can help you find the right PPE to keep your workers safe.