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Airline workers are habitually exposed to numerous hazards, the significance of which can vary from minor to immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH). Airline personnel often have to handle chemical agents in their occupational settings. Exposure to liquids such as kerosene, naphthenic oils, propylene glycol, and Sulphur, among others, can result in eye trauma. Despite the fact that the majority of ophthalmological problems caused by a chemical exposure does not require hospitalization, almost 2 percent of patients presenting in emergency departments experience some form of visual morbidity (Karydes, Zautcke, & Zell-Kanter, 2011). This paper aims to discuss personal protection equipment (PPE) in aviation, its effectiveness, and other controls that can be used for eye trauma prevention.
In their workplaces, airline mechanics are exposed to lubricants, jet fuel, de-icing agents, and hydraulic fluids, which pose such health hazards as carcinogenicity, irritation, corrosion, and inflammability, among others (EHS, n.d.). Moreover, mechanics performing maintenance and repair tasks on a hangar floor are expected to wear PPE, such as safety goggles. In addition to chemical hazards, the use of pneumatic or drilling equipment is associated with mechanical hazards that can result in adverse health outcomes.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s System Safety Process, if a risk cannot be eliminated, an organization has to reduce its severity by introducing changes in the process, behavior, and procedures (Ferguson & Nelson, 2012).
Most of the workplace eye injuries can be prevented with the help of PPE. Modern protective eyewear has numerous options that conform to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Also, there are clip-on side protectors that can be worn with prescription glasses (Refermat, 2014).
Airline personnel that uses chemical compounds for aircraft maintenance are especially prone to ocular hazards; therefore, it is necessary to educate them about proper methods of eye injury prevention. Unfortunately, even those workers that wear eyewear PPE are not perfectly safe. A study by Karydes et al. (2011) reveals that “in spite of reportedly wearing eye PPE, 44 percent of respondents suffered an eye injury” (p. 1065).
A lack of training is confirmed by the findings of the same study, which suggests that only 20 percent of those workers who reported having worn eye PPE had been trained to properly use it (Karydes et al., 2011). Moreover, only 27 percent of airline mechanics believe that it is necessary to wear safety glasses on the shop floor (Refermat, 2014). It means that there is a pressing need for more control over the enforcement of OSHA standards.
Employee training is an effective instrument for improving workers’ self-efficacy and ensuring that they comply with PPE requirements. Standardize on-the-job training programs are needed to promote awareness about the importance of the use of eye protectors.
Furthermore, administrative controls can be put in place to dissuade workers from engaging in risk-taking behaviors (Halford, Goglia, & Stolzer, 2012). Engineering controls are also helpful in eliminating or mitigating chemical and physical hazards. It is worth remembering that eye PPE can limit the field of vision due to fogging and perspiration. However, modern anti-fogging compounds can be effectively used to solve the issue.
The paper has discussed personal protection equipment (PPE) in aviation, its effectiveness, and hazards associated with not using it properly. Also, the use of other controls for eye trauma prevention has been outlined in the paper.
EHS. (n.d.). Eye and face protection. Web.
Ferguson, M., & Nelson, S. (2012). Aviation safety: A balanced industry approach. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Halford, C., Goglia, J., & Stolzer, A. (2012). Implementing safety management systems in aviation. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing.
Karydes, H., Zautcke, J., & Zell-Kanter, M. (2011). Chemical and traumatic occupational eye exposures in aviation personnel. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 82(1), 1064-1066.
Refermat, E. (2014). Eye protection: From basic to bifocal. Web.