Protection of the Eyes
The eyes are one of the most delicate and vulnerable parts of a person's body, and as such it is imperative that suitable protection is in place whenever there is a risk of injury to them. These injuries can come in a variety of forms; typically either an impact of some sort, burns from hazardous substances, or damage from abrasive dust or other contaminants.
Eye protection, when used correctly and in the correct form (goggles, full face mask etc) is extremely effective at preventing such injuries. As an accident involving the eyes can have an extreme impact on a person's quality of life if it caused full or partial blindness, it is vital that eye protection is worn and employees trained in its correct use, along with instilling the importance of protecting themselves.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) makes it a duty of the employer to perform a risk assessment and identify the potential risks to eyes. If that risk cannot be controlled by other means, such as altering the process to eliminate the risk of eye damage, then the employer needs to supply suitable eye protection and ensure that it is well-maintained, as well as providing health and safety training on how to use it correctly.
Although an employer must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the supplied eye protection is worn, it is also the responsibility of the employees themselves to use the supplied protection and follow the instructions and training on its use. They should also report any defects they find straight away, rather than simply returning it after use, as it may pose a risk to the next person who doesn't realise it is defective and may not provide the necessary protection to avoid a serious incident.
When such serious consequences can be prevented by a simple and often inexpensive piece of equipment, there really is little reason why anybody should have to suffer an injury to their eyes at work. The provision of protective equipment, in combination with common sense and suitable health and safety courses will help to keep accidents down to an absolute minimum and allow workers to stay safe in the workplace.