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Keeping an Eye on Safety

Flying objects--such as metal or stone chips, nails or abrasive grits--are the most frequent cause of workplace eye injuries. According to Prevent Blindness America, Schaumburg, IL, other common causes of eye injuries are:

  • Abrasive wheels (small flying particles can cause eye injuries).
  • Corrosive substances.
  • Damaging visible or thermal radiation.
  • Splashing metal.
  • Poisonous gases or vapors.

Operations in which hardened metal tools are struck together, where equipment or material is struck by metal hand tools, or where cutting action causes particles to fly, usually require the user and nearby workers to wear eye protection. The hazard can be minimized by using nonferrous, "soft" striking tools, and by shielding the job with metal, wood or canvas deflectors. Wear safety goggles or face shields when woodworking or cutting tools are used at head level or overhead--or anywhere there is a chance of particles falling or flying into your eyes.

The need for eye protection is sometimes overlooked on potentially hazardous jobs. Such jobs include cutting wire and cable, striking wrenches, using hand drills, chipping concrete, removing nails from scrap lumber, shoveling material to head level, working on the leeward side of a job, and using hammers or wrenches overhead. Make sure you wear protective eyewear with sufficient side shields and brow guards.