Bitterroot Gem & Mineral Club

Bitterroot Gem & Mineral Society of Montana

Eye Safety at the Workshop and Field Trip by Mark Nelson

Insurance company statistics report that about 2,000 eye injuries occur every day in the workplace in the U.S. Most of these injuries occur from objects are smaller than the head of a pin. Most workplace injuries occur where safety eyewear isn’t required, or left up to the individual to decide if they’ll wear it. Many of those injured on the job didn’t think they needed to wear protective gear, or were wearing eyewear that didn’t provide adequate protection. The risks in the lapidary hobby is no different than those in other workplaces. In our lapidary shops we have spinning wheels loaded with carbide or diamond specks - grinding tiny particles off of stones and metal. On field trips we reach through branches and chip at rocks with a steel pick hammer. Remember: Protection of our eyes is OUR responsibility! Here’s a quick checklist to help avoid shop and field trip workplace eye injuries: 1. Foremost - wear safety glasses that fit well and that wrap around the sides of your eyes. 2. Make sure you know how to properly use machines. 3. Always brush, shake, or vacuum dust and debris from hats, hair, forehead, or your brow before removing protective eyewear. 4. Don’t rub eyes with dirty hands or clothing. 5. Clean eyewear regularly. First Aid for Eye Injuries Specks in the Eye: Don’t rub the affected eye; Flush the eye with lots of water; See a doctor if the speck doesn’t wash out, or if pain or redness continues. Chemicals in the Eye: Immediately flush the eye with water or drinkable liquid; Open the eye as wide as possible; Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes; Seek immediate medical attention if pain or redness continues. There are some powdered chemicals and acids for which flushing is not recommended, so know the treatment for your particular chemicals. Cuts, Punctures, and Foreign Objects Embedded in the Eye: Unlike with specks of dust or metal, be sure not to wash out the affected eye; Don’t try to remove a foreign object stuck in the eye; Seek immediate medical attention. Club Officers: Repeated communication of the message is key to safety in your club’s operations. Make sure someone in your club takes responsibility for communicating safety in the workshop and on each field trip. Take this tip, put it on your letterhead, distribute it at your meetings, workshops and on each field trip!