Eye Safety in the Workplace

Every day in the United States, roughly 2,000 eye injuries occur, with half taking place on the job. Seventy percent of those injuries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) occur from falling or flying objects or sparks striking the eye. Many of these objects can penetrate the eyeball and result in permanent loss of vision. Roughly a third of these worker’s eye injuries are treated by a hospital emergency rooms and 100 or so of these result in one or more days of lost work on the job. While most of the reported eye injuries result from small particles or objects that are ejected by tools, blown or fall from above and strike or abrade the eye, chemical burns from splashing of industrial chemicals and cleaners are also common, with thermal burns from welding often occurring as well.

In addition to these physical injuries, infectious eye diseases can also result from direct exposure or contamination in workers that are involved in the health care industry, laboratory workers, janitorial or animal handlers.

Clearly the reduction of these injuries is dependent on the use of eye protection equipment, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses or full face respirators depending on the workplace environment and risks. The BLS has reported that three out of five workers injured were either not wearing eye protection or wearing the wrong kind of protection for that job.  It is estimated that ninety percent of all eye injuries are preventable with the use of proper eyewear. In order to be effective the eye protection equipment must fit properly and be designed for that type of work. OSHA has standards that require employers to provide workers with the appropriate eye protection for the job.

If you or someone you know has suffered an eye injury on the job which you believe resulted from improper or inadequate protection or instruction from your employer, please contact our office for a free consultation of your legal rights.