Eye Protection Incident

This incident is a timely reminder of the value of eye protection and the need to deliver the epar Stand Up Talk on Eye Protection to your team.

A Superintendent was removing cactus when the white sap from the plant splashed on his sunglasses and eyes.  A burning sensation started immediately and the Superintendent reported it was the most excruciating pain he has ever been through. He was taken to hospital and was told that he was lucky that he didn’t lose his eyesight.

Succulents are a popular plant but many people are not aware that some succulents can be very dangerous. One of the more commonly known poisonous succulents is the Euphorbia family.

In another incident, a person was exposed to a cutting of the plant. Even though they washed their hands after handling it, that evening they happened to rub their eyes and within 30 minutes they were in the Hospital Emergency Department.

Euphorbias contain a white latex based sap that irritates skin and can cause anaphylactic reactions in people who are allergic to latex, and if it gets in the eyes it causes extreme burning pain which, in the worst case, can lead to blindness.

While not all people react as intensely, the sap will generally cause a rash to appear wherever it comes in contact with skin and removing the sap is particularly difficult because it acts like glue and dries clear. Even when you think it is gone, trace invisible residue can cause major symptoms. One person had sap droplets on their arm. They washed the arm for 5 minutes and at 2 a.m the next day they awoke with excruciating burning pain on the arm.

If you have to handle these plants do so with appropriate PPE that would include as a minimum – gloves and goggles and full body protection. In bigger plants the milky sap can squirt out of where the plant is cut which makes it essential for full body protection when removing these plants.

If you would like our Stand-Up Talk on Eye Protection, email [email protected] and we will send it to you.