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Eye injuries, and how workers can prevent them


Eye injuries, and how workers can prevent them

Workers in South Carolina are probably no strangers to eye injuries. Every day in the U.S., there are about 2,000 cases of workers sustaining job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. Approximately one-third of these injuries are treated in emergency departments, and over 100 of them result in at least one day off from work.

Most eye injuries are caused by small objects that strike or scrape the eye. These often include metal slivers, cement chips, wood chips and dust. Chemical and thermal burns are another potential cause, with the latter being especially common among welders. Furthermore, workers could suffer permanent loss of vision if a wood sliver, nail, screw or other object penetrates the eye.

When the eye’s mucous membrane is exposed to blood or droplets of saliva that someone sneezes out, diseases can be spread. Even touching the eyes with a contaminated finger can increase the chances of getting sick. While minor reddening or soreness in the eye is more common, it's also possible to develop HIV or hepatitis B.

Workers can prevent injuries and diseases with the help of goggles, face shields and other personal protective equipment. Choosing the right PPE depends on the nature of the workplace and its hazards. Employers, for their part, should have engineering controls in place and conduct regular hazard assessments.

If an unsafe working environment contributes to an accident, workers’ compensation benefits may be warranted. These benefits, which are usually paid out in weekly or biweekly installments, can cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. However, the victims may want to discuss the filing process with a lawyer. If the claim is denied, the lawyer could mount an appeal.