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