Eye Didn’t Think It Would Happen to Me

One of the main forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the construction industry is eye protection. Although construction trades are most at risk for eye injury among all professions, many take their ability to see for granted and avoid wearing safety glasses when appropriate.

Why is this?

Some claim discomfort or even appearance is why they remove safety goggles or glasses. But even for a moment, can you imagine:

  • not being able to pick out your clothes for the day?
  • not being able to drive?
  • not being able to read a menu at a restaurant?
  • not being able to see your phone to make a call or send a text message?
  • not being able to see another person’s face or the smiles of your loved ones?
  • or even just relying on the use of one eye versus both eyes to see anything?

Approximately 2,000 U.S. workers suffer job-related eye injuries EVERY DAY. However, 90% of these could be prevented with simple eye protection. If each of these 2,000 people started out their day imagining what it would be like to go through it blindfolded, they might have taken the precaution to protect their eyes rather than go without.

Some workers believe they’ll only be performing a hazardous task for a few seconds and will not believe it’s worth stopping to retrieve and put on their eye protection or simply become complacent and wear it less often. That is typically when eye injuries happen in construction.

At Helmkamp, we don’t believe anything is worth a lack of eye protection when hazards are present. Our superintendents look out for everyone’s vision on our job sites. Daily safety audits from Helmkamp superintendents include comments such as:

  • Worker not wearing safety glasses. Stopped and asked him to put on glasses. Told me he didn’t have any. Got him a new pair, reminded him of the hazards of not wearing them, and told him to just ask if he needed any PPE.
  • Painters getting complacent on not wearing glasses, pointed it out to them, they complied.
  • Plumber wasn’t wearing his safety glasses due to sweat and fogging from the mask. I gave him a new pair in a different style to try. We discussed the importance of eye protection.
  • Talked to a few on site about the importance of their safety glasses. This project is at early stages, and we need to maintain strong safety expectations as more craft workers are coming on board.

Approach your work day considering the everyday hazards you will face. Flying particles are the most common and are a product of sawing, drilling, chipping, blasting, and blowing dust and dirt. Chemical, concrete, and paint splashes are other hazards. If any of these hazards are present in your job environment, wear the appropriate eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, face shields, full face respirators, etc.)

Don’t take your vision for granted. Eye injuries and vision loss CAN happen to you, but let’s make sure it doesn’t by being diligent about eye protection!

October is National Eye Injury Prevention Month.