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Eye Safety at San Diego Work Sites

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There are many ways in which San Diego workers can injure their eyes while on the job. Eye injuries can lead to permanent damage that can impair a worker’s vision for the rest of his or her life. This is why it is important for employers to provide comprehensive eye safety training that addresses all potential eye hazards in the workplace.

Safety equipment (such as goggles, face shields, and other necessary protection) should be readily available to all workers who are placed at risk of eye injuries. It is also important for workers to educate themselves about the hazards they face and how best to reduce the risk of sustaining an eye injury.

Understanding Eye Injuries in the Workplace

Eye injuries in the workplace are a tragically common problem. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that eye injuries cost more than $300 million to the American economy every year in lost productivity, medical expenses, and workers' compensation claims. Beyond these expenses, the human cost of these injuries is even more devastating. OSHA also reports that thousands of American workers are blinded every year in preventable workplace injuries.

So what can workers do to prevent such injuries? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, protective eye wear can prevent more than 90 percent of serious eye injuries. Other engineering measures (such as splash guards, machine guards, or work screens) can also reduce the risk of sustaining an eye injury. In order to select the appropriate protective measures, it is important to understand the specific risks one faces, and how best to effectively mitigate these hazards.

Common causes of eye injuries in the workplace can include heavy equipment, machinery or tools. Chemicals, too, carry a splash risk, and this may require protective barriers beyond goggles. Flying debris is a particular hazard of working near power tools. Construction sites, for example, have sawdust, welding sparks, and other small particles in the air almost anytime a crew is working. Constant use of protective eye wear can help reduce the risk of getting such particles in the eye. Workers should use such protection whenever they are on an active construction site.

California Workers Are Exposed to Dangerous Workplace Conditions

Work site hazards are a very real concern for California workers. The Los Angeles Times reports on dangerous conditions in labs at Cal State campuses across California. Investigators were first alerted to the danger after a chemical spill in a lab at Sacramento State University. Two bottles fell off a shelf (which had inadequate support) and broke. Five employees worked to clean up the spill, despite the fact that they did not know what chemical was involved.

This is a violation of one of the most basic rules of laboratory safety. One must know what a chemical is in order to determine how to properly clean it without being exposed to health hazards. Two students were burned in the incident and several staff members were exposed to harmful chemicals. An inquiry into the accident led to a Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) requesting an audit of all Cal State labs.

Four campuses (including San Diego) were audited between July 2014 and June 2017. The audit found a lack of “effective leadership” on health and safety concerns related to hazardous materials on Cal State campuses. The audit also found a lack of consistent reporting of incidents involving hazardous materials, and recommended the use of a uniform report template for such incidents.

When San Diego workers suffer eye injuries on the job, they have legal rights. It is also important for injured workers to hold employers accountable for providing safe working environments. A San Diego workers' compensation attorney can help injured workers protect their legal right to be compensated for injuries sustained on the job.

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