Every year, an estimated 2.5 million annual eye injuries throughout the United States result in $1.2 billion in medical costs and lost productivity. Reducing the number of eye injuries is fundamentally important, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared October home eye safety awareness month in order to alert the public to risks to their eyes that exist in the home.Since around 2,000 workers daily sustain eye injuries on the job, our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers believe that October is also a good time for both employers and employees to review eye safety tips that can help avoid disaster during working hours.
Preventing Eye Injury
Many eye injuries are permanent when they occur, so it is important to prevent eye injuries before they happen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a five-step plan that employers and employees should both implement in order to help reduce the risk of eye injuries at work. The steps in the plan include the following:
- Create a safe work environment. Debris in walkways should be minimized, dangerous areas should be properly secured to keep bystanders out, and workers should be trained on eye safety protocols. If there are tools and machinery at the workplace, these should be routinely inspected and all safety features such as machine guards should be fully utilized.
- Conduct safety evaluations. As part of creating a safe work environment, routine safety evaluations should be conducted to identify and correct hazards. Risks to look out for include, among other things, any dangers posed by close quarters where workers operate or by machinery that could injure the eyes.
- Remember eye gear is important. Employers should make appropriate protective eye gear available to employees and should mandate its use. Employees, on the other hand, should always wear eye protection when doing potentially dangerous tasks.
- Remove safety gear in a smart way. Debris from hardhats or goggles could actually get into the eyes if the gear is not dusted off before removal. Be sure to wipe debris from this safety equipment before taking it off.
- Have an emergency plan. If something does get into someone’s eye, there should be a nearby eye wash station where the eye can be flushed.
When an Eye Injury Occurs
While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to eye injuries, the fact is things do go wrong. When they do, it is essential know how to respond to minimize the damage. The appropriate response to an eye injury differs depending upon the type and cause of the injury. For example:
- Responding to a chemical burn to the eye involves flushing the eye out immediately and for at least 15 minutes with water or another drinkable liquid. Don’t bandage the eye but go see a doctor after the eye has been flushed.
- Responding to debris involves letting your eyes wash it out naturally. Your tears that form when debris gets in the eye should take care of this, but if they don’t then you can use an eyewash. When debris doesn’t come out naturally, the eye should be carefully and lightly bandaged and medical help sought right away.
- Responding to a blow to the eye involves putting a cold compress on and getting medical help for fuzzy vision or if a black eye forms.
- Responding to a punctured eye by leaving the object in and getting medical help immediately. Don’t try to remove whatever is stuck, instead you can use a paper cup bottom or other similar object to fashion a rigid shield to cover up the eye until you can see a doctor.
Knowing how to respond in an emergency could help to prevent permanent blindness and can minimize the damage sustained to the eye when something goes wrong. These tips for proper response to an eye injury should be included as part of worker training by employers who are serious about reducing the dangers their workers face.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.