SSI calls for mandatory safety glasses in pubs and clubs
in News, Ocular Surface Disease
29 Jul 2014
Ophthalmologists from the Save Sight Institute and Sydney Eye Hospital have called upon the hospitality industry to introduce mandatory safety guidelines for staff required to clean beer lines in hotels, pubs and clubs.
Beer lines are cleaned weekly using strong alkaline solutions at high pressure.
In one case, a 23 year old man was using a commercially available beer line cleaner, when his face and eyes were accidentally sprayed. This damaged 60-80% of facial skin and both of his eyes. Despite immediately irrigating the eyes with water, the young man was only able to see hand movements in his right eye and light perception in his left eye. He developed a corneal ulcer, requiring multiple operations, and reconstructive eyelid surgery was also needed as well as ongoing psychological and social support. Note: graphic photo of injury.
In another incident, a young female employee suffered an injury to her left eye. Multiple operations were required, along with psychological and social support, and four years later the patient had only light perception.
According to Professor Stephanie Watson from the Save Sight Institute “These eye injuries are devastating because the strong alkaline which is used to clean the beer lines causes liquefactive necrosis which passes rapidly through the cornea and to the eye’s internal structures. The result can be permanent and difficult-to-treat blindness”.
In both cases the patient was not wearing safety glasses. In Australia, there are currently no mandatory safety guidelines for beer line cleaning. Although the product manufacturers recommend the use of safety equipment, this is not enforced and standard safety glasses offer suboptimal protection from a splash injury. Non-vented safety goggles are required to adequately protect eyes and should be worn throughout the entire cleaning procedure – from setup to clean up.
Says Professor Watson “Although these injuries are uncommon they are severe and debilitating and tend to affect young workers, causing significant costs to the individual as well as the health system and society in general”.
Channel 7 News Report (View Here)
First published: Medical Journal of Australia (21 July 2014)
Contributors from Save Sight Institute and Sydney Eye Hospital:
- Chameen Samarawickrama Senior Ophthalmology Registrar
- John Leaney Ophthalmology Registrar
- Stephanie Watson Visiting Medical Officer and Clinical Professor