Health and Safety policies and procedures have come ahead in leaps and bounds in the last 13 years. So much so, that Safe Work Australia has reported a 44% drop in the workplace fatality rate between 2007 and 2015.
Although eye injuries leading to death are very rare and industrial eye injury can have devastating effects on independence and may result in isolation, depression, and be at the expense of relationships. Eye injuries cost the individual, business, and government large sums of money. Around seven in every 1000 workers sustain an eye injury every year, equating to as many as 50000 eye injuries at around a cost of $60 million.
All of these facts equate to one eye injury being too many, a good reason to wear quality eye protection.
60% of eye injuries occur in construction, mining, agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries with the vast majority of injuries occurring from welding or grinding. In Australia, 21% of eye injuries are thought to have resulted from DIY projects. Scarily only 12% of Australians always wear eye protection for these projects.
Wether at work, home or playing sport, the risks of eye injuries include burns, damage from solvents, cleaning products and industrial chemicals; abrasions and foreign bodies such as staples, nails metal fragments, sandblasting and wood chips; devastating penetrating injuries from flying objects; UV damage; laser exposure; and microbial eye infections.
A general guide for selecting the appropriate protective eyewear:
- Protective eyewear should completely cover the wearer’s eyes, without lateral gaps, which particles or chemicals can travel
- Any nose pads should fit snugly
Safety lenses are typically made from polycarbonate or trivex, which may be thinner and lighter than regular lenses, making them ideal for long-term wear. They also offer UV protection and are 10X more impact resistant than plastic or glass.
Compliance and certification:
Prescription safety glasses must comply with AZ/NZS 1337.6 standard, which specifies minimum requirements for eye protectors fitted with prescription lenses intended to provide low or medium impacted protection from flying particles and fragments in occupational situations.
Protective non-prescription eye and face protectors and associated oculars must comply with the AS/NZS 1337.1 standard, which is intended to provide protection for the eyes and face against common occupational hazards such as flying particles and fragments, dust, splashing materials, molten metals, harmful gases, vapours, and aerosols.
Eyewear that is compliant with the standards means the manufacturer deems the product complies with a standard. Certified means a third party, such as SAI Global, has assessed and audited the manufacturing systems and completed product appliance to comply with the standard.
Eye injuries can happen anywhere, anytime, hobby room to heavy industry, and even in medical environments. Nearly every eye injury can be prevented through proper advice, education, and provision of the appropriate safety eyewear.