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Year : 1968  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 221-227

Prevention of eye accidents in industry

Regional Labour Institute, Government of India, Madras, India

Date of Web Publication24-Dec-2007

Correspondence Address:
S Paramanayakam
Regional Labour Institute, Government of India, Madras
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Paramanayakam S. Prevention of eye accidents in industry. Indian J Ophthalmol 1968;16:221-7

How to cite this URL:
Paramanayakam S. Prevention of eye accidents in industry. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1968 [cited 2021 May 8];16:221-7. Available from: https://www.ijo.in/text.asp?1968/16/4/221/37560

Table 4

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Table 3

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Table 2

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Table 1

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Table 1

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When I was invited to read a paper on eye-hazards in the Confer­ence of eye-doctors I felt very happy because eye doctors have got the reputation of enlarging the vision of people. There is hazard latent for a non-medical in venturing to speak to an august audience of Ophthalmolo­gists. As the ophthalmologists have a trained knack of discerning faults in the enlarged vision of their patients, any exposure of defective and faulty knowledge is fraught with danger. I thank the organisers of the Seminar for giving me this opportunity to speak.

  Statistics of eye accidents Top

While talking about this Seminar to a friend of mine, I happened to mention that nine workers have lost one or both eyes as a result of acci­dents in factories in the Madras State during the last year. "Only nine ! that is too small and negligible" was his reaction. This is a revealing example of how statistics sometimes can help to diminish the value of the case on account of its being small in number. Roughly there have been 393 work­ers who were paid compensation for disability as a result of industrial ac­cidents in the year 1965-66, out of which 154 resulted in amputation of some limb or other and loss of eye oc­cured only in nine cases. But then, cases of eye accidents in factories form roughly 12.5% of the total acci­dents in the State, which does not compare favourably with [Table - 1] showing relation of eye accidents to total accidents in factories.

The incidence of eye accidents in U.K. works out to about 5% of their total accidents.

It is the lack of proper perspective of approach that is largely responsi­ble for the complacent attitude to prevention of eye accidents.

  Attitude of workers to accidents Top

The attitude of workers in failing to do all that is necessary to protect their eyes in hazardous jobs does not appreciably change much even on seeing the tragic experience of their colleagues losing an eye.

Once I had occasion to notice two workers working on two grinding machines, working side by side, one wearing the eye-goggle and the other without them. I questioned the work­er who was not wearing goggles "Don't you know why your neighbour is wearing goggles while grinding?" Tat came the reply "I do know. He has lost one of his eyes in the past when working without goggles. He cannot afford to lose the other eye too." Though he has witnessed the tragedy of his neighbour losing an eye, that experience does not induce an attitude of safety consciousness in him ! "Won't you have an accident?" was my next question. "Me!" he re­plied, "No. No. it will not happen to others". A worker works on a grind­ing machine without goggles many a time, only occasionally he receives a flying particle in his eye. Hence the attitude. The tendency to imagine that accidents will not happen to me' is almost universal, as workers are usually untrained in habits of think­ing in an impersonal way so as to be able to assess the requirement of a situation.


An assessment of the incidence of accidents in four selected factories from Engineering trades was done in a survey conducted by the Regional Labour Institute, Madras. A sample of 133 eye-accidents was analysed and investigated. One of the objecti­ves of the Survey centred on locating the agency, that is, the machine or the process where eye accidents are usually caused.

The survey reveals that grinding machines caused 29% of total eye accidents. It is significant to note that in majority of cases of eye accidents in grinding machine, eye protective goggles have been provided by ma­nagement but workers were not wearing the goggles provided. Ma­chines such as lathe, drilling machine, planning machine, milling machine, band saw, etc., are responsible for 25% of the eye accidents. In the others, the accidents occured solely because of failure on the part of management to provide eye protec­tion. Management was often unware that provision of eye-protection in certain types of jobs was an essential requisit. In the Factories Act and Rules, a series of jobs and trades where provision of goggles is made obligatory, is listed. But the list is not all comprehensive and needs re­vision in the light of experience.

It is a matter for thought and cri­tical examination, how many of the eye accidents due to falling particles occur in processes covered by legisla­tion for protection. That legislation is limited in scope is well-known but whether it could profitably be ex­tended is debatable. More exact in­formation is still needed as to the industries and processes involving damage to the eyes. Seventeen per­cent of the eye accidents are shared by workers engaged in chipping, hammering, etc. when metal strikes metal, which cause particles to fly. Here eye protection is needed by the user of the tool and by other work­men who may be exposed to flying particles. Provision for eye-protection was found lacking in many cases and where provided, the habit of using the eye protective equipments was found lacking.

A study was made of the number of instances where goggles or other eye protection was not used as com­pared to the number of instances where goggles or other eye protec­tion was not provided. We are quick to complain that workers do not wear goggles. We are slow to cor­rect the failure on the part of ma­nagement to make goggles of the right type available.

Of the 133 eye accidents that oc­cured in four factories, 37% were due to not wearing of goggles supplied whereas 417, were due to non-provi­sion of goggles:

Another way of approach that was attempted was to find out what per­centage of these 133 accidents could have been prevented by providing shields or screens at work places in­volving eye hazards by isolation of dust generating machines by screens, etc., i.e., by correcting the conditions in the environment of work area or work methods. In the sample survey­ed, it worked out to 23 or to 177. Very often the eye hazard in chipping and hammering can be minimised by non-ferrous soft striking tools or through the segregation of the job by metal wood or canvas shields. What it boils down to is this that in the remaining 110 or 837, the use of eye protection with goggles and eye­screens would be the only means of preventing the eye accidents.


Nine categories of process are de­tailed in A.S.A. Code where eye pro­tection is essential. Though we have not formulated a code in this regard; experience reveals that the code of A.S.A. is fairly all comprehensive. Hazard to eye is present in the fol­lowing jobs where there is likelihood of:

1) large flying objects such as rivets, nails or rock chips, fragments from mushroomed tools

2) dust and small flying particles

3) dust wind and metal sparks

4) splashing metal

5) gases, fumes and smoke

6) splashing of liquids

7) reflected light and glare, weld­ing flash

8) injurious radiant energy

Eye protective devices must be considered as optical instruments and they should be carefully select­ed, fitted and used. The amount of money spent to acquire and fit eye protective devices is small when mea­sured against the savings afforded by the protection given. If the eye pro­tection programme is supervised dir­ectly or indirectly by an industrial ophthalmologist on either full time or on consultative basis, there will be an additional return from proper utilization of the visual abilities of the work force.

  Resistance to wear eye protection Top

Much is said about the resistance of the workers to wear goggles; but very little is done to break the resi­stance. Any programme calculated to stem this resistance must have its foundation on a project of locating the causes that lead to such resist­ance. Where heavy particles fly from jobs, impact goggles are recom­mended and the impact glass should be so designed as to bear the impact of certain standards. Unfortunately there is no impartial testing laboratory set up to approve eye protective devices according to generally known and accepted minimum performance specifications.

In one factory, there was a general resistance by workers as a whole to wearing of goggles in a department of turning machines. In this depart­ment, workers should wear impact type of goggles. It seems that one worker had an eye accident in this department while wearing goggles and the doctor removed from the worker's eye not an iron particle but a glass particle. The momentum of the flying particle broke the impact glass of the goggles. From that moment, workers developed a positive resistance to wear goggles for the fear of breaking of the glass of the goggle has taken a deeper root in their mind than the fear of the flying particle in running machines. Much thought needs to be bestowed on the selection of the proper and ade­quate type of goggles. Absence of provision in Factory Rules as abso­lute obligation for compelling em­ployer to provide goggles and in compelling employees to wear is partly responsible for the laxity of behaviour. Statute does not also in­sist that goggles should be issued personally to individual worker. Supply of unsuitable goggles, unsuit­able for the purpose sometimes and unsuitable to the individual often, is another reason for failure to wear goggles. It becomes difficult to wear goggles in precision jobs. Goggles themselves cause much discomfort to wearers at times. Complaints that plain safety glasses cause head-ache and nausea, are not often divorced from fact. Some glasses are defective. What is more important is that work­ers have developed eye defects of which they are unaware. It is too much to expect a worker to discover whether his head-ache is due to wear­ing of goggles or defect in his eye. A preliminary check of eye should be made at the dispensary before fitting him with industrial glasses. This helps not only the worker but also the management in placing the right person on the right job depend­ing on his visual abilities. There is a tinge of truth in the worker's state­ment that he was wearing goggles at the time he had the accident to the eye. Occasions are not rare when the worker does not know when the foreign particle entered his eye. There is often a latent period bet­ween the time when the particle en­tered his eye and the time when he goes to the doctor. When the particle penetrates the eye at good speed, the patient does not experience pain at first. Later on, cases of traumatic cataract arising out of this are not uncommon. The act of rubbing the eye lashes by workers in between work has often driven a particle in­side the eye. These aspects that cause accident to the eye make it clear that workers who do not wear goggles, require sympathetic handling rather than downright criticism on the part of supervision in industries.

  Role of supervision in industry Top

Supervision should concentrate on causes that lead to resistance in wear­ing goggles. Attempts should be made to dispel ignorance of the work­er, to relieve the difficulties and dis­comfort of the worker and to use personal magnetism to persuade workers to develop the habit of wearing goggles and maintain it.

  Eye protection programme Top

A full fledged eye protection pro­gramme should comprise, among other things the following:

  1. A systematic and organised effort should be made to tell em­ployees the need for eye protec­tion.
  2. A uniform practice of use of eye protection should be enforced in all departments where there is risk to the eye.
  3. Supervisors should wear goggles at the time of induction of work­ers and on all jobs where risk to eye is imminent.
  4. Safety glasses should be fitted to the employees by a qualified person to eliminate discomfort in wear.
  5. Stern action should be taken as a rule on workers who violate rules on eye-protection.
  6. Goggles should be supplied to workers immediately on assign­ing the worker to jobs where there is eye risk. Time lapse bet­ween placement on job and pro­vision of goggles introduces a habit of not wearing goggles at the first instance which is diffi­cult to break later.
  7. Employees who are required to work in areas or to enter areas where eye protection is required should not be permitted access to such areas until the eye pro­tection is provided and worn.
  8. All persons who have to wear goggles should be subject to a preliminary check of the eye before fitting glasses.
  9. Prescription glasses should be provided for those who need and cover type of goggles that can be worn over prescription glasses should be provided to them.
  10. A method of inducing work people to wear equipment is the award of cash prizes to those who wear goggles all the time.

I am deeply indebted to the officers of Regional Labour Institute who have given all assistance to me in preparing this paper.

  Summary Top

The problem of prevention of eye accidents in industry involves the employer as much as the employee and also the ophthalmologist, factory inspectors and labour organisations.

A practical survery on a research basis has been carried out, analyzing the particular types of ocular and facial injuries found for particular jobs. Protection devices for the different jobs involving ocular hazards have been specified and tabulated.

The causes that lead to resistance to wear eye protection have been stu­died under the following heads: ignorance, unsuitable protection, laxity on the part of the employers as well as the employees, lack of supervision, suspension, symptoms caused by wearing goggles etc.


  [Table - 1], [Table - 2], [Table - 3], [Table - 4]


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