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Protect Your Eyes from Flying Objects

As Workplace Eye Wellness Month continues, we remind the campus community to remember and respond appropriately to the risk of flying objects that can injure the eyes.

Infographic showing a face with eye protection and debris flying from machinery towards the face

The majority of eye injuries result from small particles or objects striking the eyes.

It is important to select and wear the correct eye protection. For example for minor risks, a pair of safety glasses with side-shields may be sufficient. Goggles or the addition of a face shield may be needed for greater risks.

When working with airborne dust and flying debris, safety goggles may be a better option than safety glasses. Safety goggles provide more complete protection by forming a tight facial seal. Safety glasses have gaps where some materials may get through.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides an eTool to help with eye and face personal protective equipment selection.

Regardless of your selection, one of the hardest parts of using eye protection is to remember to use it and to ensure your coworkers, peers, and employees do the same. One way to help is to ensure that you select eye protection that is comfortable and easy to use.

Otherwise, keep eye protection safety stored so it is protected from contamination. Keep it clean according to manufacturer’s specifications, and replace it when it becomes damaged.

Remember to keep eye protection at the forefront and your eyes safe.

Protect Your Eyes: Eyewash Safety

An eyewash is an essential piece of emergency equipment when using corrosive chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires:

Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.

It is important to know how to ensure that your eyewash is ready and available to do its job.

infographic displaying and eyewash icon

What can I do?

Know where your nearest eyewash is located.

Remember you might be unable to see due to injury to your eyes.

Ensure it is not obstructed.

Eyewashes are often installed at sinks, in hallways, or even in special safety stations installed into a wall. Sinks are especially busy areas and prone to obstructions. Make sure that no matter how busy your space gets you do not obstruct access to or operation of an eyewash.

Test and flush your eyewash weekly

An eyewash is only useful if it works and is clean. Testing and flushing weekly ensures that you know whether or not it is working and that the water in the lines is clean. In general, you are responsible for flushing your eyewash. If an eyewash is installed in a shared space such as a hallway, Facilities Services might be testing it weekly. If you suspect a problem contact Facilities Services.

Don’t know what a corrosive chemical is?

The word corrosive refers to a chemical that can cause skin corrosion or burns, eye damage, or is corrosive to metals. They can be acids, oxidizers, or bases. When they come in contact with a surface, the surface deteriorates. The deterioration can happen in seconds to minutes, such as concentrated hydrochloric acid spilled on skin; or slowly over days or years, e.g. the rusting of iron in a bridge.

Sometimes the word caustic is used as a synonym for corrosive.

The hazard communication pictogram or symbol for corrosive chemicals displays a chemical damaging tissue (a hand) or metal.

Chemical Splash Risks

Chemical splash risks can occur in many situations. Those at risk include anyone that uses or is exposed to materials that can cause eye injury. This includes:

  • Researchers in wet/chemical labs
  • Facilities Services workers working with corrosive chemicals
  • Anyone else working with corrosive chemicals.Infographic of a head with goggles and splash of chemicals.

What are corrosive chemicals?

The word corrosive refers to a chemical that can cause skin corrosion or burns, eye damage, or is corrosive to metals. They can be acids, oxidizers, or bases. When they come in contact with a surface, the surface deteriorates. The deterioration can happen in seconds to minutes, such as concentrated hydrochloric acid spilled on skin; or slowly over days or years, e.g. the rusting of iron in a bridge.

Sometimes the word caustic is used as a synonym for corrosive.

The hazard communication pictogram or symbol for corrosive chemicals displays a chemical damaging tissue (a hand) or metal.

What can I do?

Understand the risk.

Corrosive chemicals can cause serious eye injury.

Use the right eye protection

If there is a risk of splash, use chemical splash goggles not impact goggles or safety glasses. Chemical splash goggles form a seal on the face to prevent intrusion of a chemical splash and are indirectly vented. That is, the vents have covers that prevent a splash from intruding. If your goggles have holes that you can see through, these are probably impact goggles and not rated for chemical splash.

Never Work Alone

If you face a corrosive chemical splash risk you should never work alone. If a splash occurs you may need assistance getting help. Minor eye accidents can become serious ones when working alone.

 

 

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