Every June, the National Safety Council encourages companies and organizations to observe National Safety Month (NSM) and help educate workers about leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. This year’s theme is “Safety Starts with Me,” and in that vein, protecting your eyes is one of the most important things you can do for your own personal safety.

According to the CDC, each day more than 2,000 U.S. workers receive some form of medical treatment because of work-related eye injuries. Yet, according to Larry L. Jackson of NIOSH’s Division of Safety Research, many employers and workers mistakenly perceive eye injuries to be minor when, in truth, the eye is much more likely to suffer permanent damage.

The number one most important thing you can do to prevent eye injury on the job is to wear protective glasses. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) stipulates, “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metals, liquids, chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gasses or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.” But even if you’re not on a job site that demands it, you should still wear protective eyewear if there is any risk. Bones will mend, skin will heal, but eyes once badly injured can rarely be fixed. Here are a few tips for safety goggle care:

If you wear contact lenses, you must be even more cautious of eye safety. If a particle gets in your eye as a lens wearer, do not just wait for tears to wash it out, but remove your lens immediately. Failure to do so could result in a scratched cornea. If, however, a caustic solution accidently splashes into the eye, the contact lens wearer should first try to flush out the eye with cool water before attempting to remove the lens. It’s recommended when working with such chemicals to replace contacts with prescription glasses under full goggles.

If you or your company would like to participate in National Safety Month, the NSC offers free downloadable materials and information.

Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.
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