A seldom addressed risk on construction sites is the harm that can be done to one’s eyes, despite the fact that the eyes are one of the most important and central body parts which enable us to continue working on a construction site and remain safe while doing so, in other words reduced visibility can actually affect our ability to correctly judge and remain safe on construction sites. That is one of the reasons why we need to protect these important organs.
There are so many hazards on construction sites that may affect our eyes and our ability to see, such as flying particles that may be ejected as a by-product of operations such as grinding, sawing, hammering and welding as well as dust and other particles from wood, metal, plastic etc. becoming airborne and entering our eyes.
Fumes and splashes from molten material or chemicals and harmful light rays from operations such as arc welding or oxyacetylene cutting can also present a serious risk to worker’s eyes.
One of the most effective and common ways of protecting your eyes is by utilising personal protective equipment but this should never be the first choice when addressing hazards. Firstly the hazards that may affect the eyes needs to be identified and the risks associated need to be addressed, thereafter the hazard should be eliminated. It is not always possible to eliminate the hazard or replace the hazard with something less hazardous, and in this instance these hazards need to be minimised by implementing control measures. The last option should be the implementation of personal protective equipment (PPE).
PPE used to protect your eyes include:
- Safety glasses
- Safety goggles
- Face shields and Helmets
Safety glasses look like ordinary glasses but are actually designed to protect workers from the impact of flying particles. The lenses of these glasses are designed to provide the wearer with more impact protection against flying particles than ordinary glasses do.
Safety goggles are not the same as safety glasses although they are often confused. Goggles provide workers with another form of protection and come in many different forms. Your choice of goggles will depend on the hazards present on the site, for example on sites where dust is a particular concern, dust goggles are especially helpful because they provide a tight seal around the eyes compared to safety glasses.
Face Shields and Helmets are aform of PPE used to protect the eyes in conjunction with other PPE. They shouldn’t be the only form of PPE used. They mostly provide protection for the face against flying particles, heat, chemical or molten materials. When engaging in activities like welding or metal cutting, face shields are recommended because they provide increased facial protection.
Be alert to the eye hazards present at your worksite and remember your White card training as well as training provided by your employer regarding eye protection and PPE.
Wear the PPE that is provided for you according to your employer’s instruction and training, failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.
Make sure that the eye protection you use fits appropriately to be effective, if it is too big, small or loose the level of protection can be significantly reduced.
If you do suffer an eye injury, report the incident to your supervisor and get medical attention immediately.