Workplace injuries are no joke. Whichever sector you happen to work in, there are inherent risks associated with your tasks and environment, making health and safety a priority not only for those in positions of responsibility, but also for each individual. In terms of sectors, agriculture, fishing and forestry represent the highest risk of fatal injury in the country; the number of fatal incidents related to the sector is 20 times higher than the average rate across all industries. Non-fatal injuries are also higher than the median average across industries, though to a lesser extent – 4% of workers in agriculture reported a workplace injury, in comparison to 1.7% across all industries.

One of the first things health and safety guidance teaches you about workplace incidents is that they are preventable – and employing the correct preventative measures could have a serious impact on the above figures. Wearing personal protective equipment, or PPE, is one such measure; for example, of the 41 fatal injuries in agriculture in 2020-21, 15% were the result of head injuries from overturning an ATV. In half of those incidents, a lack of helmet was noted.

Vocational Hazards and Eye Risk

PPE is of significant importance across the board in agriculture, but perhaps the most often-overlooked items of PPE are safety glasses. Agriculture, fishing, and forestry present serious risks to the eye, one of the most vulnerable organs on the body. Equipment and infrastructure maintenance can frequently involve the destruction of materials, including the cutting of wood and metal. Wood chips and metal shavings present serious risks to the eye, often airborne or propelled at speed due to power tool usage. Corrosive and inflammatory chemicals such as fertilisers and cleaning agents are also common and can be accidentally introduced to the eye in any manner of ways – from the rubbing of a contaminated hand around the eye area to exposure to gaseous fumes.

Choosing the Right Protection

Not all items of PPE are suited for every purpose, and not every set of safety glasses are created equal. As such, initiative should be applied in selecting the right protection for the task at hand. For the handling of hazardous materials, safety goggles with a full airtight seal are recommended to prevent the introduction of material to the area. Double-glazed safety glasses are recommended for outdoor maintenance work, maintaining your peripheral vision, and preventing the possibility of condensation obstructing your view while working.

Effective Treatment of Eye-Related Injury

As has been demonstrated already, prevention is the best form of treatment when it comes to eye injuries. Robust health and safety procedures can effectively reduce incidences of eye-related injuries, from strict uniform policy to rapid reporting of hazards. Accidents do still happen though, and it’s important for at least supervisors in the field to have basic first aid training to treat injuries should they happen. Foreign particles in the eye should be flushed out with clean water or saline solution, while embedded objects should be left alone and bandaged around. Burns should be compressed with cold water, and cuts should be bandaged until medical attention can be administered by a professional.