The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires workers in many jobs to wear face protection that covers the eyes. While some activities are more hazardous, Johns Hopkins University reports that no workplace is immune to dangers; workers have sustained vision damage from a stream of hand sanitizer.
Government data includes about 20,000 eye injuries reported annually.
Causes of serious eye injuries
Sharp objects such as a nail or a scrap of metal are the primary causes of workplace vision damage, and workers most at risk are men in the 20-39 age group. Trauma from blunt objects and chemical splashes are the other main causes of eye injury.
OSHA identifies a wide range of personal protective equipment for the face that is specific to environmental factors such as impact, heat, chemicals, dust and optical radiation. Most injuries occur because workers are not wearing the right kind of protection or are not wearing any at all.
Eye injuries and workers’ compensation
Workers’ compensation typically includes payments that equal two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage during the healing period while he or she is unable to work. It also includes compensation for the amount of disability that remains after full recovery: permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits. The worker receives compensation for total vision loss in an eye if it is 85% or more.
In North Carolina, the worker receives an additional amount if there is serious facial disfigurement, which is common for those who have suffered trauma or chemical burns to the eye area. The Industrial Commission may also make an award for serious disfigurement if the worker is unable to wear an artificial eye.