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|Year : 1968 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 172-175
Industrial eye - accidents
Personnel Officer - Sundaram Motors Private Limited, Madras, India
R T Rajan
Personnel Officer - Sundaram Motors Private Limited, Madras
|How to cite this article:|
Rajan R T. Industrial eye - accidents. Indian J Ophthalmol 1968;16:172-5
We have set ourselves, today, the important task of analysing the causation factors and effect of accidents to the eyes that arise in an industrial set-up and of devising ways and means of minimising them. We, as Personnel or Welfare Officers are constantly seized of this problem of accidents in Industry.
An 'Industrial eye-accident' can be broadly stated as an untoward event in an industrial process resulting in injury to the eyes of the operative and giving rise to partial or total impairment of vision temporarily or permanently.
No other organ in the body is of greater importance than the eye, so tender and delicate.
Perhaps this is the reason why Mother Nature has given the eyes a special protection which no other limb enjoys. The hands or the legs, for example, by themselves, have no protection and they are exposed to the effects of an accident easily. But the eye-lids act fast and protect the eyes from direct impact.
Accidents, giving rise to injury to the eyes of operatives are frequent in quarrying and mining operations and in grinding metals, stone-dressing and in some wood-working operations. Welding and Casting hot metal are amongst the commonest Engineering operations in which accidents to eyes happen.
Types of injuries to eyes, resultant of accidents, vary from burns to small particles of molten metal actually getting into the eye or dust or foreign body entering the eyes while cleaning with pressurised air as for example in Automobile industry.
If we analyse eye-accidents, we come to know that the causes thereof can be traced to one of the following.
a. Heavy impact of large particles chipping off from the process (splinters)
b. Moderate impact - dust and small flying objects (as in scaling or grinding of metals and stone-dressing processes), test - drivers of motor cycles and scooters and flour and condiment mill workers, are also affected if they avoid wearing safety spectacles,
c. Metal sparks and spatter (electric, spot and butt welding processes).
d. Splashing metal (Metal-casting operations).
e. Splashing of liquids (Acids and caustics in chemical industries).
f. Effect of certain rays.
Those who work in Television and allied professions, sometimes get this. An instance can be cited. A senior Special Officer of the All India Radio, Delhi, whose work involved intimate access to his eyes to Television, almost lost his eyesight totally for some months. He luckily regained normal vision with considerable difficulty after prolonged treatment.
Again, exposure of eyes to unshielded welding arc causes acute irritation in the eyes and injury known as the 'arc-eye' results. This is due to the rays of the arc temporarily damaging the very delicate corneal epithelium.
g. Reflected light and glare from furnaces or from acetylene welding process).
h. Fumes and poisonous gas from certain processes cause acute irritation and damage to eyes.
i. Proof readers and examiners, packers in carton-making industry, because of constant strain to their eyes that is involved in the nature of their work, develop "weak eyes" and are easily susceptible to fatigue.
We have known of the existence of an organisation in America, with the nomenclature of `Wise Owl Club' and sponsored by the 'National Society for the prevention of blindness ! It is said that any industrial worker, who, at the time of an accident saved the sight of one or both eyes from damage because lie was wearing eye-protection can become a Member of the Wise Owl Club.
A glance through the case-histories of these Wise-Owl Club Members reveals that an eye injury can occur almost at any place, any time.
1. An operator was grinding a milling cutter, the stop brake and a flying part hit the lens of his safety glass.
2. Drill broke; a piece shattered the operator's safety-glass.
3. Heavy chips flew from Lathe and hit the protective glass.
4. Lead pot erupted. Molten lead covered the lenses of the operator's Safety-glass.
In all these instances, had not the operatives worn safety-glasses, there would have been as many blind men added to the society.
In the case of an eye-accident, the extent of damage is greater than in any other accident. Because of the delicate and intricate nature of the eye, even a slight impact might impair vision. So, the need for emphasising the preventive efforts in this regard is keenly felt.
Protection against eye-accidents can be obtained through the various protective gadgets like cup-goggles, side shield, spectacles, plastic eye-shield, plastic face-shield, wire-screen shield, filter lenses, welding helmets and the like.
It is not enough to just mention the need for protective equipment. Lack of appreciation of protective gadgets, on the part of the workers should be tackled.
The Supervisors must explain the purpose and the function of the protective equipment. A demonstration of the impact strength of Safety glasses, like a nail into a soft hoard with the glasses as a hammer might help convince an employee that the glasses really will protect his eyes.
Any eye-safety programme in an industry can succeed only if it carries with it a tripartite co-operation. The Government may pass statutes and the employer may also implement them; but the success ultimately lies in the hands of the rank and file workmen. They must be properly educated on the hazards in the trade and on the safe practices that are to be adopted.
It would be advocable that in each industry the job-hazard analysis is made and the results let known to each worker. There can be three basic approaches to this analysis - viz.
1. Job-hazard analysis by machine or equipment
2. Job-hazard analysis by jobs (welding etc).
3. Job-hazard analysis by Occupation.
This special analysis involves listing of all jobs, analysing, them while those jobs are being performed, and of determining key job-steps, potential hazards, and safe practices.
The results of the job-hazard analysis, embodying the hazards and means for protecting against them, should be explained to the workers clearly. Unsafe work habits of workers should he corrected. The job-hazard analysis should be made available to the workers so that they may refer to it readily.
Generally, the workers do not realise the importance of protective equipment. No systematic effort has been made to tell the employees on the need for eye-protection or to explain the characteristics and benefits of safety glasses.
In a concrete instance, eye-protection was provided and enforced in one section of the plant but not in other sections where similar eye-hazards existed. This led to comparison and employees in the area where eye-protection was provided could not understand the significance why they alone had to wear safety glasses - They concluded that the Management was unfair.
Supervisors should set an example by themselves strictly adopting the safety practices. Lapses on their part would give room for unfavourable interpretation of the safety rules by the workers.
Infractions of rules regarding eye-protection must be dealt with severely. When eye-protection is provided, its use should become a condition of employment. Too often an eye is lost because the Safety glasses which should have been worn, are left in the tool-box or bench-drawer.
Those who are required to work in areas or to enter areas where eye-hazards exist, should not be permitted access to such areas until the eye-protection is provided. Visitors too, should not be permitted to enter such area without proper eye-protection.
An effective eye-protection scheme shall have two aspects viz., Prevention, improvement of environs and preventive gadgets (on the person of the operative).
The attitude of workers has much to do in successfully implementing such programmes. - Medical consciousness, eagerness to use the protective equipment, amenability to safety codes, - all should emanate from the worker spontaneously.
A striking contrast is drawn between our worker and a worker of the Western Countries. Whereas the latter would avoid physical strain to the eye and would voluntarily use protective spectacles, even when they are not absolutely essential, his counter-part here would act to the contrary. To cite an example, a pair of Sun-Glasses does seem to be a luxury to our workers.
Proper propaganda on eye-safety, a sound induction and training programme, educating the supervisory staff in these practices - only these can achieve the desired goal of minimising industrial eye-accidents.
"Safety is a never ending Task"
"Next to creating a life, the greatest thing a man can do is to save eye-sight"
In a nut-shell:
'Industrial Safety' in general and 'eye-protection programme' in particular, should underline the following principles:
S incere Attempt
A ptitude to prevent accidents.
F aithful belief in Accident-prevention
E nergetic action
T houghtful elimination of unsafe acts
Y earning for results.