Responding to Eye Injuries
A WORD TO THE WISE – PROTECT YOUR EYES
Like many things in safety, the best prevention is to eliminate the hazard by using engineered methods, such as guards on equipment. Also, good work practices, such as staying out of the line of fire of flying debris, will also reduce the likelihood of injury. Properly selected PPE should always be the last line of defense.
But if an eye injury does occur, what should you do?
Because the eye is such a sensitive organ, the goal should be to minimize further damage while seeking medical attention. Here are some things that you should do if you witness an eye injury.
- Assist the victim; their vision will be impaired and if there is a foreign body they need to be encouraged not to rub their eyes
- Flush the eye with excess water for chemical or small foreign body exposure
- Keep hands away from their eyes, except to hold eyelids apart while flushing
- If the injury involves (non-chemical) trauma, protect the eye from further damage by holding a clean cloth over the eye as a shield
- Use a cold compress to treat a blunt trauma injury such as a black eye, but do not apply additional pressure
- Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye; this could worsen the injury
- Do not wash out the eye when there are cuts or punctures to the eye
Immediately report any eye injury to your Supervisor. Significant injuries require placing a 300# call. But even if the injury seems minor, there should always be medical follow-up. The consequences of an incident involving the eye may not be immediately apparent. For example, a simple scratch can lead to infection which can have serious implications.