Workers’ compensation covers many kinds of injuries sustained on the job, and eye injuries are no exception. An injury to the eye may inflict some minor trauma that a worker may recover from, but severe eye damage can lead to permanent blindness. Some sectors like the construction industry put workers at particular risk of sustaining eye damage.
As the American Academy of Ophthalmology points out, nearly 20,000 workplace eye injuries happen each year. They cost about $300 million in medical expenses and lost productivity as injured workers frequently take one or more days off to recover. The AAO explains the various ways that workers may suffer an eye injury while on the job.
A lot of workplace eye injuries happen because of flying materials. Sometimes your normal course of work produces airborne debris. If you grind or sand down a solid object, you may shoot out wood chips or metal shavings depending on the object you are working on. Welding can produce a lot of sparks. Working with chemicals may also produce a chemical splash that burns your eyes. Tasks such as these generally require some form of protective gear.
You might suffer an eye injury not due to your own labor, though. Construction and industrial workplaces have areas where debris is likely to fly. If you pass through these areas without gear covering your eyes like safety glasses or a face shield, a stray piece of wood or metal may cut or lodge into your eye.
Even if you don the proper safety gear while you work, you should not let down your guard if you know an accident might happen with one of your fellow workers. For example, a worker might lose a grip on a tool and it flies through the air. Sometimes a tool malfunctions and spits out debris like a bolt or a drill bit which could strike you in the face. Some workers suffer eye damage from chemicals that suddenly spray from a container.
Dealing with eye injuries
Eye injuries are serious. They not only endanger your vision, but they could put your life at risk if you get hurt while in the middle of a dangerous work area and you cannot see to find assistance. You and your co-workers should know how to assist each other when one of you suffers a vision impairing injury. After receiving medical treatment for your eye injury, you may need to fill out a claim for workers’ compensation to cover your medical costs.