Chemical splash accidents are a sterling example of this theory. Engineering the hazard out of a problem (e.g., properly storing the acid) normally is sufficient prevention.
Despite decades of effort to eliminate them, occupational eye injuries remain a widespread and costly problem.
Administrative controls, such as warning other employees away from the improperly stored acid and bringing the hazard to the supervisor’s attention (rather than carrying the bottles), also prevent accidents. In this case, training was sloppy: the employee let down his guard, did not have his personal protective equipment (PPE) in place and almost paid with his eyesight.
When chemicals splash in the eyes, it is natural to close them to avoid further injury, yet closing them is the surest way to destroy eyesight. Acids burn initially when they contact the eye, then precipitate protein in front of the eye.
Ideally, eyes should be flushed with a sterile, isotonic, pH-balanced solution at a temperature between 60 and 90 degrees F. Drench showers should use clean, uncontaminated water that is near body temperature.
|SI 93 HEW
If you have an eye emergency, notify a coworker right away. Have someone activate 911. Get to an Combination Emergency Shower & Eyewash Stations immediately. Know that the water will keep flowing while you are using it. You can also use portable eyewash bottles until you get to the plumbed eyewash.
Hold your eyelids open while the water flows over the eyeballs. Roll your eyes all around so the water touches all of the surfaces and gets under the lids. Wash both eyes even if you think you only contaminated one. Remove contact lenses during the flushing. Consider wearing glasses instead of contact lenses when working with corrosive chemicals. Contacts may hold chemicals against the eye and cause further damage.
Don’t try to dislodge objects from your eye. Don’t rub your eyes. Continue flushing your eyes for 15 minutes or until emergency responders arrive and instruct you otherwise. Emergency Shower & Eyewash Stations are first aid only. Seek medical attention for every eye injury.