Workplace Eye Safety Month: Protecting Your Eyes in the Workshop

Saws, lathes, drill presses and similar machines are invaluable tools when it comes to working with metal, acrylic, and wood. However, if used improperly, they can be incredibly dangerous, especially to the eyes. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain serious job-related eye injuries each day. When one factors in the number of eye injuries that occur in home and garage workshops, it’s clear that lack of eye safety is extremely prevalent. In recognition of the fact that March is Workplace Eye Safety Month, here are some tips for protecting your eyes—and everything else—in the workshop.

 Always Wear Protective Eyewear

The most common workplace eye injuries are sustained from:

  • Projectiles, such as dust, concrete, metal, wood chips, and other particles
  • Chemicals, including splashes and fumes
  • Radiation(from visible light, ultraviolet light, heat, and lasers)
  • Bloodborne pathogens, like hepatitis or HIV, from blood and body fluids

A Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of workers who suffered eye injuries revealed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. These workers most often reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation. About 90% of workplace eye injuries can be prevented by wearing proper eye protection!

Invest in Continuous Training

Whether you are a hobbyist operating out of your own garage, or a supervisor for multiple workshop employees, it is important to invest time and money in proper, recurring training. Learn as much as you can about your machines as possible, and don’t allow yourself (or employees) to become complacent with machines they have used many times before. No one, no matter how senior or experienced, is too old for safety training.

Work in a Clean, Well-Lit Area

This basic, but often-overlooked machine safety tip is crucial to ensuring workshop safety. Metal shavings, clutter, and other tools can make machines and saws unstable. In the best case scenario, this will only cause you to ruin your work; in the worst-case scenario, it could cause a serious eye injury or other injury. In addition, make sure to work in a well-lit area so that you can easily oversee your work.

Develop a Culture of Safety

While all employees are ultimately responsible for their own safety, it is very important to build an overall culture of safety at your workplace. Be sure to let your employees know that, while you value efficiency, cutting corners to speed up a process is not permitted (and in fact, in the event of an accident, will decrease efficiency). You should also implement a system of checks and balances that will help to ensure employees are looking out for one another. Never let an employee use machining equipment alone without someone else nearby. If you are operating alone, make sure a family member or roommate is at home when you are operating a machine, if possible.

Keep Tools Sharp, Clean, and Maintained

Examine all machines for any loose, damaged or missing parts, especially guards and shields. Cutting tools should also be sharp at all times—a dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one. Regularly make sure each tool is free of debris like metal/wood shavings and oil buildup.

Get Emergency Eye Care at Raleigh Eye Center

We hope that these tips will help you avoid ever needing emergency eye repair or eye surgery. However, if you sustain an eye injury, our Raleigh optometrists are available to help you on the journey to recovery. Please click here to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment.