The importance of wearing safety glasses

Date: 18 May 2018

We are all aware of the hazards of not wearing safety glasses while plastering, so why do so many in the trade ignore the warnings?

While there has been great progress with Health and Safety within the construction industry, the resistance towards wearing safety glasses is still evident.

In the UK we’ve seen great strides in the implementation of Health and Safety practices in recent years. Due to a growing understanding of risks, as well as increased legislation, on site injuries have notably reduced. However, eye injuries in particular remain high and according to strike more than 10,000 construction workers a year.

Product, chemicals, dust and metal fragments are just a number of causes of irritation and damage to your eyes, each with the potential to impair vision. This safety concern is certainly present in the plastering industry. We’re all aware of the hazards, however sometimes the seriousness of the situation doesn’t become apparent until you hear of a real life example.

Sam's Story

We recently became aware of an incident where Sam, an experienced plasterer, had an accident on site, which resulted in irreparable damage to his eye. Sam was working on an exterior render project when he put an open bucket of ready-mix render onto the floor. Product splashed out of the bucket and because he was not wearing safety glasses at the time the product went straight into his eye.

We spoke to Sam about the incident and how it has changed his outlook on the importance of safety glasses.

“For years I’d worked on site without using safety glasses not really giving it much thought. It was the same for a lot of my colleagues – none of us understood how serious the consequences can be if these mixtures do end up getting in your eyes. The general belief was that safety glasses were uncomfortable and not that important. Obviously since my accident that opinion has changed,” he commented.

After getting product in his eye, Sam, aware of the severity of the situation, immediately washed it out before rushing to hospital where his eye was cleaned thoroughly. Despite quick reactions and help from hospital staff, the product was still being removed two weeks later. Sam spent close to three months in hospital before he was discharged and despite the medical team’s best efforts he lost all sight in his left eye.

British Gypsum - Safety Glasses Story

In the years following the accident Sam experienced constant pain in his eye and, after a consultation with his doctor, had few options other than to have his eye removed. He now wears an artificial eye, faces numerous challenges, particularly around work, and has had to rebuild his life.

Sam now aims to raise awareness among plasterers in an effort to prevent such a misfortune occurring to someone else. The key message being that through wearing safety glasses, accidents such as this are easily avoided.

Sam continued, “It’s crucial that plasterers know what can happen if they don’t take the necessary precautions when working with plaster products. I hope the industry can learn from my experience and understand how serious the implications of not wearing safety glasses can be. Now that I’m back on site I always ensure I’m wearing the proper protection, as do many of the people I work with.”

We can’t emphasise enough the importance of wearing appropriate safety glasses on site. There are many different types available on the market, ranging in price, design and functionality, including those which won’t steam up when worn. Business Insider list their top picks when it comes to choosing safety glasses.

Investing in a pair of safety glasses that could save your sight is worth every penny. Not doing so can put you at risk and, as we saw in Sam’s case, can potentially lead to years of difficulties. So, the next time you’re on site please do ensure you’re wearing the correct safety glasses and encourage others to do the same.

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