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Understanding Workplace Eye Injuries

Female carpenter wearing ppe respirator goggles and ear protection

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

Prevent Blindness, the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight, has declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month. The purpose of Workplace Eye Wellness Month is to provide employers and employees with information on how to avoid an eye injury due to a workplace accident.

How do eye injuries happen at work?

Causes of eye injuries depend on the work setting. For example, in an office workplace, excessive use of a computer, tablet, and/or cellphone can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS. According to WeeklySafety, CVS results in eye dryness, eye irritation, and a loss of concentration.

In other instances, eye injuries can occur from flying debris. Small particles or objects like dust, cement chips, metal slivers, and wood chips can strike or scrape the eye and cause damage. These objects are usually ejected by tools, blown from the wind, or fall from above.

Objects like nails, staples, and slivers of wood or metal can even penetrate the eye and result in a permanent loss of vision, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other possible workplace eye injuries involve chemical and thermal burns.

Preventing an on-the-job eye injury

There are many precautions employers and employees can take to prevent an eye injury at work. Prevent Blindness recommends the following:

  • Complete your workplace's eye hazard assessment to be knowledgeable of the eye safety hazards at work.
  • Eliminate any hazards before you begin to work. Use machine guarding, work screens, and any other engineering controls.
  • Make sure to use the proper eye protection like non-prescription or prescription safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets, or full-face respirators. Make sure that they fit properly.

Prevent Blindness also recommends that workers take frequent breaks using what is called the "20-20-20" rule. This rule suggests that workers look away from their screens every 20 minutes and look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This allows your eyes to reset and replenish themselves.

How to promote workplace eye wellness

According to, more than 700,000 work-related eye injuries happen each year. It is crucial for everyone in the workplace to take the necessary precautions and learn how to prevent eye injuries.

Companies can host a meeting on eye safety to spread new knowledge to employers and remind those that may already know.

If your company has a newsletter, include a section on eye safety tips. Putting up eye safety posters around the workplace is another great way to spread awareness. Make sure all safety signs are up to date and replace outdated posters as needed.

Legal help is available for injured workers in California

If you suffered an eye injury while on the job, you should talk to a workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal rights and options. While you focus on healing, your attorney can help you navigate the workers' compensation process and fight for the benefits you're entitled to.

In some cases where a negligent third-party contributed to the injury (e.g., a subcontractor or someone who doesn't work for your company), you may be able to file a lawsuit for damages not covered by workers' comp, such as pain and suffering. Again, the key is to talk to a lawyer who has experience successfully helping injured workers.

At McLaughlin & Sanchez, we've been fighting for injured workers in Southern California for decades. We are experienced workers' compensation attorneys dedicated to helping clients get the compensation they deserve. To find out how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

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