If you have suffered an eye injury or problems with your vision due to an accident or exposure to toxic substances at work in New Jersey, you’re not alone. Ten of thousands of workers suffer eye injuries while working, and Prevent Blindness has set aside March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month.
There are more than 20,000 workplace eye injuries occurring annually according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports workplace eye injuries cost about $300 million a year in lost productivity, medical treatment and workers compensation payments. Injuries can range from mild eye strains to severe trauma causing permanent vision loss and blindness.
The most important thing an employer can do is to provide eye protection for workers, and employees need to take advantage of it and wear it when it’s available. It’s been estimated that use of appropriate protective eyewear could prevent more than 90% of serious workplace eye injuries.
Frequent causes for eye injuries on the job include:
- Flying objects (such as pieces of metal, glass, wood or concrete)
- Fine particles
- Chemical exposure.
To try to prevent eye injuries from happening, follow this advice:
- Make yourself aware of the possible workplace threats to your eyes.
- Eliminate those hazards before starting to work by using machine guarding, work screens or other engineering controls.
- Wear proper eye protection.
You should wear protective eyewear in any place an eye injury may occur. What type of eye protection you need depends on the hazards you face. The protection and eyewear should comply with OSHA regulations for eye and face protection.
- OSHA also has information about the types of filter lenses required for specific welding and cutting activities and warnings about the danger of eye irritation from welding fumes.
- If you work where there are particles, flying objects or dust, you must wear safety glasses with side protection or side shields.
- Those working with chemicals should wear goggles.
- If you are working near radiation (including welding, lasers or fiber optics), you should wear special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed to protect against related risks.
Eye safety wear needs to be OSHA-compliant and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to meet their eye protection standards.
If someone suffers an eye injury, he or she should see an ophthalmologist or go to the local emergency room immediately, even if the injury seems to be minor. Delaying medical attention could cause permanent vision loss or blindness. You shouldn’t try to treat a serious eye injury yourself.
These are some of the signs of an eye injury:
- Pain or difficulty seeing
- A cut or torn eyelid
- One eye doesn’t move as well as the other
- One eye sticks out compared to the other
- A pupil has an unusual size or shape
- Blood in the clear part of the eye
- There is something in the eye or under the eyelid that can’t be easily removed.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology also has this advice and guidelines for recognizing and treating eye injuries.
If you or a family member has suffered an eye injury on the job in New Jersey, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at (973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Contact us so you can learn about your rights to workers’ compensation benefits, how the process works, what you need to do to protect those rights and how we can help.