September is Eye Safety Awareness Month and perhaps time for your employer to take a clear look at protecting your eyes, one of the most valuable body parts.
With this in mind, Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) would like to urge employers and employees to emphasise and prioritise eye safety in the workplace.
“Eye injuries in the workplace can largely be prevented with the use of proper equipment and safety regulations,” says Dr Deodat Kritzinger, general manager: medical of RMA.
“Even though eye safety regulations are in place at many companies, the message needs to be constantly reinforced to make sure that it is implemented.
“Companies should make sure that safety measures are up to date and in place and that they are presented in such a way that the employee is able to take responsibility and ownership of these safety measures so that they can protect themselves,” says Dr Kritzinger.
“Furthermore, too many companies and employees have fallen into bad habits and do not periodically update and promote eye safety regulations in the workplace.”
Employees within industrial companies are generally more at risk as they are exposed to environments, equipment and machinery that, without proper safety regulations and practices, can cause a variety of injuries.
“In terms of our labour laws, the responsibility lies with business owners and managers to make sure that employees are fully trained to operate any equipment and machinery.
“Employees should furthermore be equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment so that they can safely and effectively perform their daily tasks,“ says Kritzinger.
He says emergency mock drills must be held frequently to test the effectiveness of the protocols and the employees’ ability to act in line with the procedures as set out.
“Eye injuries should have a customised emergency protocol, as they are usually unique in nature,” Dr Kritzinger explains. He provides the following basic first aid tips:
• If eyes are exposed to harmful chemicals, do not rub them. Rinse the eye with plenty of clear water immediately and call for medical assistance. Do not cover or bandage the eye.
• In the event of a blow to the eye, apply a cold compress but do not add pressure to the eye or the surrounding area. Pain medication may be taken to alleviate pain. However if there is bleeding, prolonged pain, vision impairment or any form of discomfort when moving the eye seek immediate medical attention.
• Refrain from rubbing if a foreign particle enters the eye. If the particle is small enough it can be removed by rinsing the eye with clear water. If not, gently cover the eye with a bandage and seek immediate medical assistance.
Maintenance of equipment
Faulty or outdated machinery is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace. All machinery needs continuous maintenance to ensure safe and productive use.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
This is a collective name for a variety of protective items that includes overalls, suits, goggles, gloves and masks. Every type of equipment, machinery and task requires its own kind of PPE.
“A mistake that many companies make is to use one type of eye protection across the board for a variety of tasks. This is not a safe practice,” cautions Dr Kritzinger.
Another important aspect of PPE is maintenance. As with machinery and equipment it requires regular maintenance and updating.