The most common cause of eye injury in construction workers is flying particles: dust, metal, wood, slag drywall, cement—any of these can cause an eye injury. Hammering on metal is particularly risky as it creates metal slivers, or even rebounding nails. Here are a few other examples of potential eye hazards:
- Handling chemicals may lead to splashes in the eye
- Wet or powdered cement in the eye can cause a chemical burn
- Welding leads to exposure to arcs and flashes (intense UV radiation) for welders, helpers, and bystanders
- Dusty or windy conditions can lead to particles in the eye
- Eye injuries can result from simply passing through an area where work is being performed
- Coworkers around or above you may generate the hazard
- Use engineering controls such as machine guards that prevent the escape of particles or welding curtains for arc flash protection.
- Use administrative controls such as making certain areas “off limits” unless that is your work assignment area or putting passage ways out of active work zones.
- Most importantly, wear proper eye protection for the job. This includes non-prescription and prescription safety glasses, clear or tinted goggles, faceshields, welding helmets, and some full-face type respirators that meet the ANSI Z87.1 Eye and Face Protection Standard.
No excuse is worth risking your vision. Keep eye safety top of mind and accept no excuses. For more information, visit the NIOSH topic on eye safety. You can also view OSHA’s guidelines for eye safety here.