Memo 6/08: Eye Injuries - Use of eye protection

Memo M20/07 was issued to help departments identify a number of common and entirely preventable eye injuries. It stressed the need for risk assessments to identify where eye protection was needed and to specify an appropriate type. It also identified the part that instruction, supervision and training should play in making workers understand why eye protection is needed and ensuring they wear it.

Several recent accidents have been potentially sight threatening, and the issue of compulsory eye protection in laboratories will now be given serious consideration. In the meantime, departments should take the following action to address any local deficiencies. This is especially important where there is a risk of significant injury or infection, e.g. in workshops, chemical laboratories and containment laboratories.

1.  Identify areas or activities where eye injury is reasonably foreseeable.

2.  Consider designating high risk areas as eye protection zones, with suitable signage and enforcement. All workers in these areas will need to wear eye protection at all times.

3.  Enforce the use of eye protection where it is specified in risk assessments. In this case only those likely to be affected by the work activity will need to wear eye protection.

There is a wide range of eyewear available nowadays and it should be possible to obtain a comfortable fit for everyone – it should not be uncomfortable to wear.

It is possible to have effective eye protection policies – wearing safety spectacles at all times is compulsory in the Chemistry Research Laboratory and they achieve full compliance.