Preventing eye injuries at home.

Over 1100 work-related eye injuries were recorded between 2006 and 2009 by Safety Work Australia.  This figure does not include eye injuries that happen at home or outside the work place.  It is well know that a very high percentage of eye injuries are preventable, by wearing safety glasses or goggles.

Tips on how to prevent eye injury during activities around the home, such as yard work, house cleaning, auto repair and renovation projects.

The top causes of eye injury at home include power tools, welding tools, and chemicals like bleach. Injuries are also often caused by free-flying particles during activities like yard work and house cleaning.

Preventing eye injuries from occurring at home requires two things: Planning Ahead & Common Sense

Employ the following suggestions to significantly decrease chances of eye injuries happening at home:

  1. Wear ANSI-approved protective eyewear. These will protect eyes against most of the common causes of eye injury in the home. Keep in mind that wrap-around glasses and goggles provided added protection from free-flying particles and the sun’s harmful UV rays.
  2. Remember to protect anyone nearby. Anyone near your work area, children and adults included, may also be in danger of eye injury caused by flying debris and should also wear protective eyewear.
  3. Periodically check for tripping hazards. This check should involve any walkways outside as well as include looking for tripping hazards like rugs and chords inside. A thorough analysis also means making sure adequate lighting. Note that the elderly are especially susceptible to injury from tripping and falling.
  4. Take special care when working with chemicals. Cleaning often involves harsh chemicals, and splashing them into the eye is always a possibility. Wearing protecting eyewear is the best prevention of eye injury when working with chemicals, and common sense tactics like not mixing chemicals and storing them in a safe place also helps prevent injury.
  5. Clear the yard before mowing. Taking a few minutes to remove debris from the yard before mowing can make a huge difference for the eye safety of not just the individual mowing but also anyone nearby. Be sure to check for overhead branches too!
  6. Use proper gear when welding.  Choose the correct welding helmet for the type of welding you are going to do, to make sure eyes are sufficiently protected when welding.
  7. Make sure tools and equipment are in good condition. When tools and equipment are in poor condition, they often kick up unnecessary debris and are more susceptible to breaking unexpectedly, which can easily cause injury to the eyes.
  8. Wear gloves and wash hands when finished. Obviously, avoid touching eyes with hands during projects, especially those where hands touch chemicals or get dirty. Beyond this common sense step, wearing gloves can make sure hands stay free of debris that could make its way into eyes, and certainly washing hands frequently will help make sure it doesn’t happen.
  9. Know that corrective eyewear isn’t enough. Regular eyeglasses usually do not provide enough safety protection for eyes and can often cause further damage when they break during an impact. Contacts can also often add to or exacerbate an injury. This means that wearing safety glasses over your prescription glassesor wearing prescription safety glasses an important safety step for anyone requiring prescription eyewear.
  10. Secure loose belongings. This tip applies to items in vehicles as well as items stored the home or garage. Simply put, properly stored items prevent unexpected flying objects from causing eye and other injuries.

What to Do If An Eye Injury Occurs

If an eye injury does take place while at home, or really anywhere, follow these basic guidelines for making sure the injury does not become worse.

  1. Avoid rubbing or applying pressure to eyes. For blunt trauma, a cold compress may be necessary but can be applied without much pressure.
  2. For chemical or foreign body exposure, rinse eyes immediately and thoroughly. If irritation persists after 15-20 minutes, seek medical attention.
  3. If a foreign particle in the eye persists even after rinsing, bandage the eye lightly before seeking medical attention.
  4. Never bandage eyes after chemical exposure since this can cause additional damage, and remove contacts if they did not come out during flushing.
  5. For any persistent or worsening irritation, and if the damage involves significant bruising, bleeding, change in eyesight or if the eye hurts when moved, seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

Regardless of the above tips, if there’s ever any doubt whether or not to see a doctor, treat the injury as an emergency by contacting an optometrist or ophthalmologist or going to the emergency room.

Since most eye injuries can be prevented, taking the time to do so is just common sense. Start with proper protective eyewear and then move on to creating a safe working environment, and you’re much more likely to have a productive and injury-free day.

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