Thousands of eye injuries occur nationwide every day, including in Pennsylvania. Do you give eye safety the consideration it deserves? Does your employer provide appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent eye injuries?
Eye damage can occur in a split second, and although these injuries are preventable, you cannot eliminate all the threats by using engineering controls. For that reason, eye protection that fits properly is critical.
Common occupational eye injury hazards
An eye injury can occur without warning, and familiarizing yourself with the following potential risks might save your eyesight:
- Fine particles: Most eye injuries involve fine particles of dust from cement or sand, or dust produced in manufacturing processes like sawing or grinding wood, steel and other materials that are windblown or ejected from machines.
- Blunt-force trauma: Struck-by injuries can cause blunt trauma to your eye socket or the eyeball.
- Penetration: Flying objects from tools like nail or staple guns and debris such as slivers of metal and wood can cause permanent vision loss if they penetrate the eyeball.
- Chemical burns: Industrial chemicals can cause severe burns to both your eyes.
- Thermal burns: The UV rays produced by a welder's flash can damage your eyes and the surrounding tissue.
Precautions you can take
You may be able to assess your workstation and identify potential hazards. Make sure all safeguards are in place before proceeding with your tasks. Take the following steps to protect your eyes:
- Avoid danger zones: Try to position yourself out of the line of fire. Stand upwind from blowing dust or debris, and avoid areas where other workers' jobs cause flying debris.
- Personal protective equipment: The job you do will determine whether you need safety goggles, a face shield or safety glasses. Make sure whichever you choose fits correctly and carries the approval of safety authorities.
- Avoid UV exposure: Even if you are not the welder, UV exposure can damage your eyes if you are nearby. Make sure you stay behind a protective barrier and wear eye protection.
- Eyewash stations: Be aware of the location of eyewash stations, and rinse your eyes immediately if you get chemicals or other objects in your eyes. Also, avoid rubbing your eyes because any foreign objects that get into your eyes can scratch the cornea and cause permanent damage.
Despite your best efforts to protect your eyes, accidents happen, and you might suffer injuries that cause lost workdays and medical expenses. Fortunately, the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance system covers occupational eye injuries. An experienced Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney can help you with the navigation of the complicated process of claiming benefits, which can cover your medical bills and replace lost wages. If your eye injury cased permanent disability, your lawyer will know how to pursue additional benefits to which you may be entitled.