Eye protection in the workplace
Workplace accidents in Georgia and around the country cause about 20,000 eye injuries each year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Eye injuries range from straightforward strains that cause no long-term damage to severe trauma that can result in permanent vison loss or even blindness. Eye injuries are also a major drain on the economy. Figures from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration put the annual cost of workplace eye injuries at about $300 million each year.
The vast majority of workplace eye injuries could be prevented by protective eyewear, and placing shields on machines that produce wood splinters, metal shavings or glass shards reduces the risks even further. Eye protection is especially important for workers who perform high-risk jobs such as welding. In these situations, specially designed helmets or face shields are recommended. When workers wear more conventional eyewear, employers should provide them with safety glasses that feature side as well as front protection.
OSHA has published several standards for workplace eye protection that include details about the types of filters and lenses that should be used to protect high-risk workers. The American National Standards Institute has also issued eye protection guidelines. In addition to complying with safety regulations and equipment standards, employers should encourage their workers to seek medical attention immediately when they suffer eye injuries even if they seem minor.
Workers’ compensation benefits
Some workers who suffer on the-job eye injuries are able to receive treatment and return to their duties very quickly, but others may be unable to earn a paycheck for weeks or months. The Georgia workers’ compensation program was put into place to help injured workers to cope financially until they are able to return to their jobs, but the application process and paperwork involved can be confusing. Attorneys with experience in this area could help to prevent workers’ compensation claims from being delayed or rejected because of incomplete documentation or missing medical evidence, and they could also advocate on behalf of workers when their claims are challenged by their employers.