Eye injuries in the workplace, including farms, are very common. Nearly three out of five workers suffering eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time of the incident. An American study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed that wearing the right eye protection can reduce the severity or even prevent 90 per cent of all eye injuries.
Flying or falling objects or sparks striking the eye cause almost 70 per cent of eye injuries states the OSHA study; and often the injurious particle is smaller than a pinhead. Another 20 per cent of injuries are from contact with chemicals, which in agriculture could include anything from cleaning solutions to pesticides to anhydrous ammonia fertilizer.
In addition to eye trauma injuries, livestock handlers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases via ocular exposure. Infectious diseases can be transmitted through mucous membranes of the eye as a result of direct exposure to dust, blood splashes, respiratory droplets generated during coughing, and a host of other sources.
There are three key actions that can help prevent an eye injury. First, know the eye safety dangers at work by completing an eye hazard assessment. Second, eliminate hazards before starting work by using machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls. And third, use proper eye protection.
The type of safety eye protection that should be worn depends on the hazards in the workplace. If working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, workers must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields). If working with chemicals, wear goggles. If working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fibre optics) special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that task must be used.