Have you ever had a close call at work? They’re more common than you might think. Avoiding injuries is a primary concern on any construction job site, and eye injuries are among the most common, as described by legal experts like these. Over 2,000 eye injuries are reported in the U.S. per day, many of which occur at construction sites. 10-20% of these result in temporary or permanent loss of sight.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) can significantly cut down on the frequency and severity of these injuries. The University of Wisconsin estimates that workers could avoid 90% of on-site eye injuries by wearing PPE.
It is essential to know what causes eye injuries on the job and what to do to prevent those injuries. Without PPE in your artillery, corneal scratches, eyelid lacerations, and chemical burns could be in your future.
You only have one pair of eyes
Construction sites are hazardous by nature. Eye injuries can stem from any of the following working conditions:
- Particulates in the air from construction activity
- Chemical spills
- Noxious and poisonous gasses and fumes
- Sparks from cutting or welding
Preventive measures can keep many eye injuries from happening. Conducting a thorough inspection of the job site to identify hazards, having regular meetings to review safety protocols, and washing hands after handling hazardous materials are just a few ways to prevent eye injuries on construction sites.
Wearing OSHA-approved PPE is the best way an individual can mitigate the harm inflicted by a workplace hazard, including to the eyes.
Why personal protective equipment matters
1. It keeps you safe
Using PPE properly is a fundamental safeguard against eye injury. Despite thorough job site inspections and safety meetings, accidents and incidents happen. PPE will help minimize the risk of serious injury when accidents inevitably occur.
2. It is the last line of defense
If all other safety precautions fail and you end up in a hazardous situation, PPE is the last line of defense. It is the protection that is physically the closest to the worker’s body. PPE protects your body from your environment when protocols like lock-out tag-out are not correctly followed.
3. Unexpected things happen
Even the safest job sites will have to deal with the unexpected. A machine guard can fall out of place, exposing a worker to sparks, or a bag of concrete can get knocked over, sending particulate dust everywhere. When this happens, PPE can make the difference between finishing the job or going to the hospital. If you think PPE isn’t necessary because your worksite is safe, consider that no site is 100% safe all the time.
4. PPE saves time and productivity
Taking a few moments to don PPE will pay significant dividends in time and productivity in the event of an accident. The time and productivity lost to an injury can be monumental, especially compared to the minimal amount of time it takes to put on PPE. Taking a few minutes to dress in your PPE can save you from weeks or months out of work in the event of an accident.
5. It can protect your future welfare
Many employers and municipalities require PPE for all applicable job sites. If an employee who wasn’t wearing their PPE is injured, it could prevent their ability to collect workmens’ compensation or other financial relief.
With hazards looming around every corner as construction workers work at sonic speeds and operate injury-inducing equipment, honoring the importance of PPE could be a life-saving decision.
In these high-risk environments, accidents and unexpected incidents will happen, and PPE can mark the difference between a good day on the job site and a threat to the health and livelihood of someone injured on the job site. Don’t let short-sightedness cost you your sight-- be sure to wear your goggles whenever you’re on the job.