Working in the construction industry usually means visiting a building site at some point in your employment. This might be a regular everyday occurrence for some businesses and employees, or it could just equate to visiting the site every now and then. Either way, construction sites pose a number of risks to your eyes that need to be addressed to ensure employers, employees and visitors all feel safe at work.
Read more about some of the most high-risk situations, what steps to take if your eyes are affected, and how to make sure you’re always protected. If you work with chemicals, discover more about the specific risks to the eyes (including chemical eye burns) by visiting our dedicated pages.
Appropriate safety eyewear is essential when working on, or visiting, a construction site. Working with hard materials such as metal or glass can pose a serious risk to your eyes, especially when cutting or grinding materials with high-speed machinery. Metal fragments can damage your eyes irreparably. This type of injury can be caused by any of the following situations:
Hazardous situations like these can almost always be avoided with suitable safety glasses. To identify the right eye protection for your workplace, you can explore our safety eyewear product range here.
Construction sites can create an environment where there is a significant amount of dust and sawdust in the air, increasing the risk of it entering the eye. Whilst this isn’t usually threatening to eye health, it can be unpleasant and is easy to avoid. This type of irritant can affect employees as well as visitors on site. Situations that could put you at higher risk can include any of the following:
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employers for the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) that will protect employees against health and safety risks at work.¹ As an employee, it is your responsibility to abide by the site regulations to keep your eyes safe.
If you are unsure what safety eyewear you should be wearing, your employer will be able to recommend the type of lens needed for your job. Our safety glasses product range includes a number of lens options including toughened glass, polycarbonate and plastic.
A splinter in the eye is another type of injury that can be caused by working on, or visiting, a construction site without wearing the appropriate safety eyewear. This can damage the eyes long-term if not treated immediately. Injury can be more likely when working in the following situations:
A foreign object in the eye (such as a splinter) can lead to a scratch or scrape to the front of your eye, otherwise known as a corneal abrasion.
If a foreign object enters the eye, it’s important that you don’t rub the affected eye to protect it from any further damage. For example, a scratch or scrape to the surface of your cornea. Seek urgent medical attention if the foreign object can’t be seen, or if a sharp object has pierced your eye or something has hit your eye at speed. If you have noticed a change to your eyesight, feel sick, can’t move your eye, blood or pus is weeping from it or you have a headache, high temperature or sensitivity to light it’s also important that you get it checked as soon as possible.²
If it is a minor injury, you can try to wash away the foreign object by blinking to stimulate tears or by bathing your eye. The NHS advises that you should use clean, cool water from a tap, shower or bottle. Hold your eye open and run water over your eyeball for at least 20 minutes — making sure the flow of water isn’t too strong.² If it doesn’t wash away you should still seek urgent medical attention.
In the meantime, you should keep the affected eye shut until you have been seen by a professional. Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help to ease any pain or discomfort. Avoid wearing contact lenses until the eye is better.
Working in any type of construction environment can pose a number of potential health and safety hazards to your eye health and vision. This is especially true when work involves visiting building sites on a regular basis. Machinery, sparks or fragments of material can cause irreversible damage to the eyes, even if you aren’t the person using the tools.
It’s vital that the appropriate safety eyewear is provided by employers, and used by employees. Employers have a legal duty to their employees to make sure they are safe at work and employees have a responsibility to abide by the set regulations to protect themselves. The right eye protection will minimise the risk of causing long-term injury.
What’s more, safety eyewear with prescription lenses means you don’t have to wear goggles over the top of prescription glasses. An added discomfort that increases the temptation to remove safety eyewear whilst focusing on a task. Our safety glasses are suitable for various industrial settings and include several lens options.
The construction industry can be dangerous, especially for your eyes. If you want to know more about how to protect yourself or your employees with the right safety eyewear, take a look at our construction use case page to learn more about eye safety.