The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that each day approximately 2,000 U.S. workers suffer job-related eye injuries that require medical attention. According to the American Optometric Association, St. Louis, electrical workers are among the highest risk occupations for such injuries.

Flying particles — such as nails, small pieces of metal, and cut wire ends — as well as falling objects or sparks striking the eye account for almost 70% of accidents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Contact with chemicals causes an additional one-fifth of the injuries. Electrical workers also face a higher threat of arc flash burns, which can sometimes lead to blindness. Despite these alarming statistics, safety experts estimate 90% of all eye injuries could be prevented simply by wearing proper eye protection. To keep eyes free from injury, the following practices are recommended:

  • Always wear goggles or safety glasses that have side shields.

  • Always wear goggles when performing overhead work, or if the work environment contains heavy amounts of dust, liquids, or gases.

  • Always wear a clear, plastic face shield for work that involves flying particles and/or corrosive chemicals or metals that can splash.

  • Make sure safety eyewear is marked ANSI Z87.

  • If a worker wears prescription eye glasses, ensure protective goggles or safety glasses fit over them, or get prescription goggles or prescription safety glasses.

  • When working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics), wear special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task.

Sources: The Center to Protect Workers Rights (CPWR) and OSHA