Construction 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 have more opportunities 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
- Always wear eye protection. Most eye injuries in any occupation could be prevented simply by wearing safety eyewear consistently.
- Wear the correct type of protection. Often, having the wrong kind of eyewear results in non-compliance and injury. Wearing the proper 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:
- 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, various Over–Prescription Safety Glasses exist for individuals who must wear prescription eyewear and safety eyewear.
- 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.
- Clean your eyewear regularly. Dirty lenses reduce vision. Cleaning safety eyewear frequently and properly helps prevent injuries caused by poor visibility, so be sure to Know How to Clean Your Safety Glasses.
- Store lenses properly. Instead of throwing eyewear into a toolbox 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.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. On the construction site, passing through injuries can result when a worker lets down his guard. Therefore, 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.
- Know available features. Safety eyewear is available to fit every person and situation, from side, top & bottom protection and adjustable nose pieces and straps to the almost endless styles available for different faces and conditions. Consult your safety officer when unsure of the best options available.
- Consider goggles. When wearing vented goggles, construction workers may find better all-around protection on-site. Fortunately, there are tons of options for safety goggles for applications that require even more protection.
- Be flexible. With the variety of tasks on the site and an individual’s requirements, workers may find that having more than one option for safety eyewear provides the best protection. In addition, construction work often exists in varying conditions, from cold and hot weather to rain and high wind. 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-site: failure to wear safety eyewear and the wrong type of eyewear. Instead, follow the above recommendations to ensure you have the best eyewear for your particular situation and that your protective eyewear stays in the best condition possible.