Eye injuries in the workplace

About 2,000 workers in New York and around the country suffer job-related eye injuries every day that are serious enough to warrant medical treatment. These injuries are caused by fluid splashes, impacts with foreign objects and exposure to steam or radiation, and workplace safety experts say that about 90% of them could be prevented by proper eye protection. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics studied workplace accidents that resulted in eye injuries, the agency found that only about 40% of the workers involved were wearing eye protection.

OSHA standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide their workers with protective gear whenever they operate equipment or are exposed to environmental hazards that could injure their eyes. Goggles or safety glasses with side shields are issued to workers who are exposed to chemicals, airborne particles or flying debris, but welding and other tasks that involve working close to hazardous radiation requires more sophisticated protective equipment. Workers who suffer eye injuries are often employed in the construction, mining or manufacturing sectors, but office workers and medical professionals should also take precautions.

Computer vision syndrome and ocular infections

This is because staring at a desktop or tablet screen for several hours each day can lead to a debilitating condition called computer vision syndrome, and many infectious diseases can enter the body through the eye. Office workers can reduce their risks of suffering eye strain by averting their eyes from computer screens every 20 minutes to look at objects at least 20 feet away, and doctors and nurses should wear eye protection whenever they could be exposed to airborne pathogens. According to experts, simple precautions like these could prevent thousands of eye injuries and workers’ compensation claims each year.

Workers’ compensation benefits

Workers usually recover from minor eye injuries fairly quickly, but more serious accidents can cause partial or total blindness. The workers’ compensation program is designed to help workplace accident victims to meet their financial obligations, and there is generally no limit on how long benefits are paid when injuries cause a permanent total disability.

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