The Basics of Eye Protection (Part I)

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Each day more than 2,000 U.S. workers receive some form of medical treatment because of eye injuries sustained at work. More than 800,000 work-related eye injuries occur each year.
In 2000, 300,000 eye injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments (ED). This was 22.2 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. Of these workers, 80% were men. Compared with women, men had an eye injury rate 4 times higher (32.4 vs. 8.2 cases, respectively, per 10,000 full-time workers).
In 70% of cases, the injury was caused by contact with an object or equipment. In 26% of cases, the injury was caused by exposure to harmful substances or environments.
Injury sources were:
• Scrap, waste, debris (34%)
• Chemicals or chemical products (14%)
• Person, plants, animals and minerals (9%)
• Parts and materials (6%)
• Welding torches (6%)

The above information, taken from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) at http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsworkPlaceEye/ gives us just a glimpse of the enormity of the problem that we are dealing with when we talk about eye protection.
Other statistics:
• 90% of eye injuries could have been avoided.
• The average time off work for an eye injury is 2 days
• Men make up over 80% of all eye injuries
• Across the U.S. there are 2000 eye injuries each day that require medical attention.
A complete and comprehensive approach to the problem requires that we look at the following issues…
1. What are the potential hazards that we are trying to protect against?
2. When and where are these hazards present?
3. How do we protect adequately against the various hazards?
4. What to do in case of eye injury.

During this week we will look at each of these different issues one at a time, starting with number 1 tomorrow.

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