Eye protection in the workplace is an essential part of the growing health and Safety issues seen across all Australian industries.
More than 4700 eye injuries occur in Queensland workplaces each year, according to statistics by the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU), located at Mater Hospital.
The QISU bulletin revealed that occupational eye injuries represent 21% of all occupational injuries and is a common cause of workers compensation claims in Queensland.
Mater Paediatric Emergency Physician and QISU spokesperson, Dr Mike Shepherd said men aged between the ages of 20 to 40 years were far more likely to receive occupational eye injuries than women (96% compared to 4%).
Out of all the cases that presented to QISU participating emergency departments, men who work in construction (32%), manufacturing (25%) and mining (15%) were most at risk to sustain an injury to their eyes, while injuries for women most commonly occurred in the food industry (13%) and accommodation services (10%).
The majority of eye injuries were related to foreign bodies hitting or entering the eye, accounting for 71% of all cases, 18% of injuries were superficial including contusions, corneal abrasions and lacerations to the external eye, while burns, such as welder's flash burns and burns from chemicals and other materials, represented seven percent of all presentations to emergency departments,? Dr Shepherd said.
In males, almost one third of occupational eye injuries occurred while using a angle grinder, while 17% were caused by welding equipment. Injures to females were most likely to be caused by chemicals, such as soap or detergent (13%), bleach (11%) or other chemicals (10%) entering the eye.
It is estimated that at least 8500 working days are lost each year in Queensland from occupational eye injuries and over 4000 claims are registered a year.
Some simple and cost effective safety tips to prevent occupational eye injuries include:
� Ensuring your workplace has an up-to-date eye injury prevention program and employers and co-workers are familiar with the process.
� Personal eye protection should be individualised and expertly fitted for workers in high risk industries.
� Goggles and face shields should be worn when using grinders and drills, or scalding, cutting metal and hammering.
� Welding helmets with auto darkening lenses should be used where possible.
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