Construction Workers & Eye Safety

Pyramex Furix Safety GlassesConstruction workers have the highest rate of eye injury of any workforce. The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that about 20% of occupational eye injuries occur in construction. Of that group, welders, plumbers, insulators, painters/glazers, supervisors and electricians have a higher proportion of eye injuries.

From a foreign body in the eye to passing-through injuries, construction workers simply have more opportunity for eye injury than most other occupations. For this reason, eye safety must take an even higher priority in the construction trades.

10 Recommendations for Improving Eye Safety in Construction

  1. Always wear eye protection. Most eye injuries in any occupation could be prevented simply by wearing safety eyewear consistently.
  2. Wear the right type of protection. Quite often, having the wrong type of eyewear results in non-compliance which results in injury. Wearing the right safety eyewear for the job and conditions means eyewear stays on instead of being taken off because it’s a hindrance. Consider the following examples:
  3. Check prescription eyewear. Prescription eyewear is automatically impact-resistant, but it’s not typically shatterproof. In addition, glasses provide only limited frontal protection, leaving room for small particles to make their way through the open sides, top and bottom and to the eye. Fortunately, a variety of Over-Prescription Safety Glasses exist for individuals who must wear prescription eyewear in addition to safety eyewear.
  4. Perform regular maintenance checks on safety eyewear. Safety glasses and goggles are meant to prevent injury and not sustain repeated impact. Check safety eyewear for scratches & cracks regularly, and replace when eyewear shows signs of wear and tear or when it has sustained significant impact.
  5. Clean eyewear regularly. Dirty lenses reduce vision. Cleaning safety eyewear regularly and properly helps prevent injuries caused by poor visibility, so be certain to Know How to Clean Your Safety Glasses.
  6. Store lenses properly. Instead of simply throwing eyewear into a tool box or vehicle, at least put them in an old sock for scratch protection when not wearing. Better yet, purchase a case or pouch when buying eyewear.
  7. Stay aware of surroundings. On the construction site, passing through injuries can result when a worker lets down his guard. Stay aware of other work taking place on the construction site at all times. In addition, having daily safety meetings can help ensure workers are aware of safety on the site as a whole.
  8. Know available features. From side, top & bottom protection and adjustable nose pieces and straps to the almost endless styles available for different faces and conditions, safety eyewear is available to fit every person and situation. Consult an expert when unsure of the best options available.
  9. Consider goggles. When wearing vented goggles, constructions workers may find better all-around protection on the work site as a whole. Fortunately, there are tons of options for safety goggles for applications that require even more protection.
  10. Be flexible. With the variety of tasks taking place on the site as well as required of an individual, workers may find that having more than one option for safety eyewear really provides the best protection. In addition, construction work often exists in varying conditions from cold weather and hot weather to rain and high wind. All of these factors make a strong case for staying flexible by having more than one safety eyewear option. To that end, consider the following:

If you work in construction, don’t fall prey to the top two reasons for eye injury on the job site: failure to wear safety eyewear and wearing the wrong type of eyewear. Instead, follow the above recommendations to make sure you have the best eyewear for your particular situation and that the safety eyewear you do have stays in the best condition possible.

Cold Weather Safety

chainsaw winterWith the onset of colder weather in many areas comes the need to consider the safety of those whose jobs (construction workers, for example) expose them to cold environments on a regular and/or prolonged basis. In addition to those who work in cold environments, those who play (snow sports, for example) in such environments would do well to consider aspects of safety too.

When considering cold weather safety, understanding the factors, danger signs, preventative measures and emergency situations can prove immensely helpful in keeping individuals who are exposed safe and healthy.

Factors

When exposed to cold environments, realize that factors such as the actual temperature, presence of winds and humidity in addition to contact with cold water or surfaces all play a role in the safety of working or playing in cold environments.

  1. Temperature. Know the temperature and be smart about the length of time of exposure accordingly.
  2. Wind. Wind speed can decrease the actual temperature your skin actually feels exposed to, so know the wind chill too.
  3. Dampness. Add rain into the mix, and even a chilly environment feels colder. Being damp and cold can create unsafe conditions even when the actual temperature isn’t extreme.
  4. Contact. When coming into contact with a cold surface, realize that your body heat will transfer into that surface making staying warm a bit more difficult.

Just one of the above factors can cause unsafe conditions, but be especially aware of environments where multiple factors exist.

Danger Signs

Anyone spending a lot of time in a cold environment should also know the danger signs for when exposure becomes unhealthy. OSHA lists the danger signs of being over-exposed to cold environments to include the following:

  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsy movements
  • Fatigue
  • Confused behavior

Unfortunately, individuals experiencing these signs may not be aware of them, especially when confusion hits. For this reason, using the buddy system when working or playing in cold environments can be one of the best safety procedures to practice.

Preventative Measures

Fortunately, simply employing a few preventative measures keeps most individuals exposed to cold environments safe & healthy. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the following preventative measures when working and playing in cold environments.

  1. Proper clothing. In a word, this means layers. Start with a wicking layer followed by a layer to provide insulation and topped off with an outer layer to protect against wind and rain.
  2. Short breaks. Give your body time to warm up in warm, dry shelters periodically.
  3. Rest well. Rest allows the body to avoid exhaustion that can lead to lack of energy needed to keep muscles warm.
  4. Drink often. Avoid caffeine and alcohol and focus on warm, sweet beverages that provide quick energy.
  5. Eat heartily. Finally, a great excuse for consuming high calorie foods without guilt! Foods like pasta help stock the energy reserves needed for working and playing in cold environments.

Emergency Situations

Being prepared for staying safe in cold environments also includes knowing what to do if an emergency situation arises. The most common emergencies in cold environments include cold water immersion, trench foot, hypothermia and frost bite.

The following tips can help minimize damage and even same limbs or life in emergency situations involve exposure to cold environments.

  1. Call for help. Have access to emergency help when spending time in cold environments.
  2. Get dry. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing or blankets as quickly as possible.
  3. Create heat. Create muscle heat by moving limbs, or place warm water bottles or hot packs in arm pits, groin areas and neck and head areas if movement isn’t possible. Avoid heating too quickly though as this can lead to fatal situations.
  4. Be gentle. Especially when frostbite is suspected, use warm water to slowly warm tissue. Too much heat too quickly can actually damage the tissue.

Training & Education

The basics of cold weather safety outlined above will allow most people – those spending occasional time working and playing in cold environments – to stay safe. For those spending extended periods in cold environments, additional training and education beyond these fundamentals becomes necessary.

Take the time to get the necessary information – that which fits how much time you spend exposed as well as the type and extremeness of exposure – for staying safe while working or playing in cold weather environments.