Work Smart. Work Safe.
Keep your "Heads Up" and work safe!

Let’s play a game–winner takes all!

By: Josie Hammond-Thrasher

I spy with my little eye: a staple from a staple gun rebounding towards my face.

I spy with my little eye: a metal filing flying off my grinding wheel.

I spy with my little eye: hot oil splashing towards my eyes.

eye from dreamstime for blog

I remember countless hours playing I Spy with my family while driving across Canada’s vast countryside. So when thinking about eye safety, I thought about the types of hazards you can spy in the workplace that can affect your sight for the rest of your life, including:

  • impact hazards such as sand or dirt flying into your eyes when drilling
  • heat hazards such as sparks and slag when welding and cutting
  • chemical hazards such as splashes or fumes from cleaning chemicals
  • dust hazards such as particles that float when buffing and woodworking
  • optical radiation hazards such as burns when working with lasers

Eye protection tips: gear up. speak up.

Almost 2,400 young Alberta workers reported eye injuries from these types of hazards last year. Nearly 200 were hurt badly enough to lose time from work.

The good news is using protective eyewear can prevent about 90 per cent of these injuries, according to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

Keep the following tips in mind when working.

Gear up

  • Know which hazards you face: make sure you’re wearing protective eyewear that’s designed for the task you’re working on
  • Wear your eye gear snug to your face: a secure fit gives protection all around your eyes and helps prevent your gear from getting knocked off
  • Clean your gear: use water or a lens-cleaning solution to clean your eyewear, avoiding lens scratches that can impair your view

Speak up

  • Know your rights:  if you’re not sure whether you need protective eyewear–speak up! Asking questions helps to keep you and your co-workers safe.
  • Help protect your co-workers: if you see people who should be wearing protective eyewear but aren’t–let them know!

Keep your eyes on the prize

It takes less than a minute to put on eye protection–but can take less than a second for injuries to happen.

But don’t just take my word on that. Read Alex Airey’s story on page 11 of last summer’s WorkSIGHT Magazine. Alex was a fourth-year electrical apprentice at a worksite when he suffered an injury that cracked the orbital bone around his eye. He says, “If I hadn’t been wearing my safety glasses that day, my eyeball would have literally popped out.”

Alex’s story reminds us to keep our eyes on the prize–a lifetime of being able to play I Spy.

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