Inadequate Dust Exposure Control & Clean Up Leads to Eye Injury Later in the Evening
A general construction firm’s foreman was working outside on a scaffold with two of his employees removing a brick lintel, when he was exposed to dust and debris that later led to a foreign object entering his eye. The laborers were cutting with a reciprocating saw and breaking with a pry bar. Upon breaking the final weld, the plate dropped approximately 12 inches on to bracing. Debris containing rust, steel chips, mortar, etc., blew up into the foreman’s face. The foreman was wearing safety glasses at the time of the exposure, but was not wearing additional protection such as a face shield or goggles. At the time of the debris exposure, and for the rest of the workday, he did not notice any exposure to his eyes. He did not take any precautionary steps to clean the debris from his clothing or body before leaving for home.
Later that evening the foreman noticed that his right eye felt scratchy. In the morning his eye was swollen, watering, and sensitive to light. He rinsed his eye, used eye drops, but it did not help. Assuming that a foreign object from the debris exposure the day before must have somehow entered his eye later on, he reported the continued discomfort to his supervisor and safety person on the worksite.
A visit to an occupational health clinic revealed a black speck near the cornea of his right eye. The eye was rinsed and swabbed three times without success. The foreign body was ultimately removed with an instrument and an antibiotic prescribed. The following day, during a scheduled revisit to the clinic, the doctor noticed a rust ring on the foreman’s eye indicating that the foreign body was a speck of metal. Continued antibiotic treatments resulted in the eye healing completely without missing any days of work.