A nonprofit organization has declared March to be “Workplace Eye Wellness Month,” highlighting a little-discussed risk to American workers.
What Is Workplace Eye Wellness Month?
A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that there were 15,730 eye injuries involving days away from work in 2020.
Prevent Blindness, a group whose mission is to preserve eyesight, notes that proper eye protection would have minimized the risk of such injuries.
Throughout Workplace Eye Wellness Month, the organization will be offering free resources towards these efforts, including information on the effects of extended digital screen usage and an overview of the importance of safety glasses and other forms of eye protection for various industries.
What Is “Proper” Eye Protection?
As Prevent Blindness stated in a news release announcing Workplace Eye Wellness Month, the “proper” eye protection for the workplace depends upon the particular hazards of the job.
For work environments that have particles, flying objects, or dust, employees should wear safety glasses with side protection, also known as side shields. If a person works near hazardous radiation – such as lasers, fiber optics, or welding – special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for the specific task at hand are recommended.
Even workers in office settings are at risk of eye damage. According to the American Optometric Association, the average employee in the United States spends seven hours a day on the computer. Those who work primarily with digital screens, such as computer monitors, smartphones, or tablets, are at heightened risk of digital eye strain, which can cause headaches, sore or irritated eyes, and blurred vision.
For these workers, Prevent Blindness recommends the following:
- Screen Time – Office workers should reduce the amount of time they spend in front of screens and/or take frequent breaks to rest their eyes.
- Filters – Screen filters are available for digital screens that can decrease the amount of blue light given off electronic devices that may impact the retinas.
- Anti-reflective Lenses – These lenses increase contrast, reduce glare, and block blue light from digital devices and the sun.
- Intraocular Lenses (IOL) – Intraocular lenses replace cloudy ones in cataract surgery. They naturally protect the eyes from almost all ultraviolet light and some blue light.
Employers Have a Duty to Ensure Worker Safety
As Prevent Blindness makes clear throughout Workplace Eye Wellness Month, protecting the safety of workers isn’t a courtesy – it’s the law, mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In keeping with OSHA regulations, employers must provide eye and face protection when necessary to protect against environmental, chemical, radiological, or mechanical hazards and irritants. Workplaces must also provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to their employees and train them to ensure its proper use. Failure to do so could result in serious injury, the kind for which employees may seek out the assistance of knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys.
Protecting the Eyes from Infection
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends eye protection in settings where workers may be at risk of infection.
Infectious diseases can be transmitted through a number of mechanisms, including through the mucous membranes of the eye (conjunctiva). These viruses and bacteria can cause conjunctivitis, bloodborne illnesses, herpes, rhinoviruses, and other systemic infections.
For more information, visit preventblindness.org.
Fighting for Employees with All Types of Injuries
Whether they suffer eye damage, broken bones, repetitive trauma, or burns, injured employees in Illinois may be entitled to certain benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation system. Unfortunately, obtaining these benefits is not always guaranteed. Many employers and insurance companies will work to minimize the extent of an employee’s injuries or even deny a claim outright in order to reduce their financial exposure. To help overcome these challenges, consider retaining the dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in Illinois. For more than four decades, our workers’ compensation attorneys have been fighting for employees in practically every profession who have sustained nearly every type of injury. GWC has the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation necessary to get you the benefits you deserve.
If you have been hurt in the workplace, contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a workplace eye injury attorney. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.