According to the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), around 2,000 workers in the U.S. receive eye injuries each day.
The majority of
eye injuries are caused by flying debris, including wood chips, sparks, and small particles
of metal, with the U.S. Department of Labor estimating that these make
up 70% of eye injuries. About 20% of eye damage is caused by contact with
harmful chemicals, from cleaning solutions to hydrochloric acid.
Workplace eye injuries can vary greatly, but commonly include:
- Corneal abrasions
- Decreased visibility
- Hyphemas, bleeding in the space between the cornea and the iris
- Muscle damage
- Retinal damage
- Subconjunctival hemorrhaging, which is bleeding in the white of the eye
- Swollen eyes or eyelids
- Traumatic iritis, in which a blow to the eye causes inflammation of the
colored part of the eye
Over 40% of workplace eye injuries were inflicted on craft workers, like
carpenters, industrial workers, plumbers, and construction workers, although
eye damages do occur in every industry.
Precautions to Avoid Eye Injuries
The vast majority of eye injuries can be avoided by wearing proper protective
gear. This includes safety goggles, which provide much more thorough protection
than just glasses by enclosing all entry points to the eyes. Face shields
can further protect the eyes, as well as the face from harmful debris
or chemicals. Welders and nearby workers should also take precautions
to protect against ultraviolet (UV) burns (also known as welder's
flash). Different kinds of soldering and welding will require darker tints
to protect the eyes.
Protective equipment is only effective if it is used properly and maintained
consistently. To provide adequate protection, industries such as construction
require that goggles be marked with the Z87 or Z87+ grade. Enforcement
of policies regarding the constant use of goggles and other safety gear
will ensure that lapses do not occur. Training employees on the importance
of equipment and how to ensure that it is being worn properly can also
maximize its effectiveness.
It is also important to keep medical equipment on site to quickly treat
any workplace eye injuries that may occur. An eyewash station will help
workers to quickly wash out harmful chemical or particles, while a basic
first-aid kit will provide bandages, swabs, and other useful items than
can reduce damage in case of an incident.
If you have suffered a serious eye injury while on the job, you need to
know your legal rights. Our industrial injury attorneys have helped injured
workers recover over $1 billion in 5 years. Contact us today for a
free case evaluation to learn how Arnold & Itkin can help you get compensated for your injury.