Thousands of people are blinded every year as a result of a work-related eye injury. These injuries, in most cases, could have been prevented had the victim been provided with the proper eye and face protection, as required under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.
The CDC reports that about 2,000 eye injuries occur every day in the U.S. Some are treatable, and vision restored, while others are so serious that sight in one or both eyes is lost forever.
At Riddle & Brantley, we represent workers who have suffered vision loss or blindness due to a workplace injury. We are dedicated to helping those who are living with this impairment to seek every possible form of compensation through workers’ compensation benefits and through any other agency or third party that may also be held liable.
We have years of success in workers’ compensation law in North Carolina, and we have two Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists on our team. That means your case is in experienced hands. Connect with us by phone, or use our online injury evaluation form as as soon as possible after the eye injury. We’ll immediately get moving on your case.
A wide range of work situations and environmental hazards can result in permanent vision loss. The various types of eye injuries include:
- Blunt injuries: A blunt impact to the eye can damage the structure of the eye in front, which include the eyelid, conjunctiva, sclera, cornea, iris and lens. The structure at the back of the eye, including the retina and optic nerve may also be damaged. Blunt injuries can also break bones around the eye and lead to cuts in the eye tissue.
- Eye hemorrhage: Blunt force can lead to bleeding in the back of the eye, a torn iris, lens displacement, and result in permanently impaired vision or blindness.
- Detached retina: A detached retina is a serious injury, requiring immediate treatment with an uncertain outcome. In some cases, the retina cannot be repaired and the worker is left with permanent vision loss in that eye.
- Chemical burns: The eye can be permanently damaged by exposure to splashed chemicals, fumes, or gases.
- Corneal injuries: Corneal abrasions are scratches or scrapes on the cornea, which is the clear, round covering of the pupil and iris. If the cornea is scratched, and then scarred, vision can become impaired.
- Arc eye: Welders exposed to UV radiation can experience injuries to the surface and mucous membrane of the eye. Long term exposure can lead to cataracts, and permanent scarring of the retina and vision loss.
- Eye loss: If the eye is severely damaged, it may be surgically removed, leaving the worker with an altered appearance and alterations in vision, such as lost depth perception.
Compensation for your Vision Loss:
Under North Carolina law, total loss of use or total loss of vision in one eye is the same as losing that eye and the employee will receive 120 weeks of compensation of 66 and 2/3 percent of his average weekly wage. If the employee suffers partial loss of the eye or use of the eye, then his compensation is based on the percentage of his loss of the eye or vision.
The determination of partial loss of vision depends upon the remaining vision without the use of corrective lenses or glasses. Once the loss of vision equals 85 percent then the loss is considered total and the employee is entitled to the full 120 weeks of compensation. If the employee’s eye is removed then he is entitled to the full 120 weeks plus additional compensation for serious facial disfigurement.
How Eye Accidents Happen
Those working in the construction industry have one of the highest rates of eye injuries, according to the CDC. Some of the situations leading to permanent vision loss or long term vision problems include:
- Particles of dust, metal, wood, cement, drywall, or slag commonly lead to eye damage.
- Workers that hammer on metal may release metal slivers that enter the eye.
- Hammering, grinding, sanding and masonry work produce particles that enter the eye causing damage when proper eye protection is not used.
- Nails that rebound when struck, entering the eye, are one of the most common causes of vision loss for construction workers.
- Workers who are using chemicals can suffer eye damage when chemicals splash into the eye.
- Wet or powdered cement poses the risk of a chemical burn to the eyes, often with tragic results.
- Dusty or windy weather conditions can force particles into the eye, causing damage.
- Some eye injuries occur when a worker passes through an area in which certain types of work are being performed.
- Other workers on the site, whether above or around you, may be responsible for generating the hazard.
OSHA Regulations: Eye Protection
OSHA requires employers to ensure the safety of all employees in the work environment. Eye and face protection must be provided whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants and hazards.
Eye and face protection is addressed in specific standards for general industries, as well as, shipyard employment, longshoring and the construction industry. These regulations contain these safety provisions:
- General Requirements. Under OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.132, employers must provide protective equipment, including personal protection equipment for the eyes, face, head and extremities, as well as protective clothing to protect workers against hazards in the work environment, as well as from chemical hazards, radiological hazards or mechanical irritants that could cause injury or impairment to the function of any part of the body, including the eyes.
- General Industry. Under OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.133, employers are required to ensure that each affected employee is using the appropriate eye or face protection if exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles.
- Under OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1915.153, employers are required to provide eye and face protection for employees when they may face exposures to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemical substances, acids, caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors or any exposure to potentially injurious light radiation.
- Under OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1926.102, employers are required to provide workers with eye and face protection when machines or operations pose a potential risk of injury to the eyes of face from physical, chemical or radiation agents.
How Riddle & Brantley Can Help
All workers are required to be protected against eye damage in the workplace, when there are hazards present. If your employer failed to provide approved eye protection as required, and you suffered a serious eye injury, vision impairment or blindness as a result, you have a right to seek justice and compensation.
At Riddle & Brantley, our goal is to help workers who are living with severe vision impairments or blindness. Turn to our legal team where Justice Counts for the compensation you deserve.
- CDC: Eye Safety
- OSHA Regulations: 29 CFR 1910.132, 29 CFR 1910.133, 29 CFR 1915.153, 29 CFR 1926.102
- American Academy of Ophthalmology: Recognizing and Treating Eye Injuries
- American Academy of Ophthalmology: What Causes Corneal Abrasion
- Occupational Health and Safety Canada: Welding Radiation and the Effects on Eyes and Skin