What to Do in the Event of an Eye Injury

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

While no work injury is desirable, an injury to the eyes is something nobody ever wants to experience. Not only can eye injuries be extremely painful, but they can cause partial or total blindness that can be either temporary or permanent.

The best way to protect yourself against eye injuries is to use personal protective equipment, such as shatter-proof goggle or other industrial eye wear. If the risk for eye injuries is present in any workplace, it’s important to have emergency eye wash stations available at all times.

Managers also should make a point of testing emergency eye wash stations to make sure they are working properly at regular intervals such as once per month or at least once per quarter. The last thing you want to discover if an eye injury should occur is that the emergency eye wash stations don’t work or were never turned on in the first place.

There are also portable bio med eye wash sprays that can be used to treat eyes in the event of a chemical spill or accidental exposure to caustic materials.

Step 1: Call 911

Injuries can have potentially crippling consequences for workers, so it’s important to seek emergency medical treatment any time an eye injury occurs in the workplace. Your first step should always be to call 911. The emergency dispatcher can not only send paramedics to help treat the victim, but may be able to provide medical advice over the phone to help prevent further damage.

If an object such as a piece of glass or metal is sticking out the eye, call 911 immediately.

Chemical Exposure

If chemicals get in the victim’s eyes, make sure they don’t rub their eyes. Instead, immediately wash out the eyes with lots of water. If a working emergency eye wash statement is not available, use a garden house, water fountain, shower or whatever water source is closest.

Time is of the essence with a chemical exposure to the eyes. So the sooner you can get the victim’s eyes washed out, the less risk of long-term damage to the eyes.

Continue flushing the eyes with water until emergency medical help arrives. Don’t bandage the eye, just keep pouring water over it.

Blows to the Eye

In the event of a blow to the eye, apply a cold compress to the area — such as a plastic baggie filled with crushed ice cubes or a bag of frozen peas — but don’t put pressure on the eye.

If the victim is in pain, given them an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

If there is deep bruising, bleeding, blurred vision or blindness, or the victim’s eye hurts when it moves, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

Removing Foreign Particles from the Eye

In some instances, eye problems are more irritating than serious, such as when there is a foreign particle in your eye.

To remove a foreign particle from your eye, don’t rub your eye. Instead, pull the upper lid down and blink repeatedly. If the article is still there, try rinsing out your eye with an eyewash. If that still doesn’t do it, close your eye, bandage it lightly and contact your doctor for treatment.


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