You might be surprised to learn that 2,000 employees in the U.S. suffer workplace eye injuries every day. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), these many workers require medical attention for eye injuries daily. Work accidents that cause a loss of vision can be devastating for the victim. They can lead to partial or even total blindness. This, of course, can severely impact a person’s quality of life as well as their emotional and financial well-being.
At The Dominguez Firm, our loss of vision work accident attorneys have over 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of workers who have suffered a loss of vision due to a workplace accident. If you or a loved one experienced a partial or total loss of vision due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness at work, let us help you obtain the compensation that you are entitled to. Call us at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation. And remember: you win, or you don’t pay!
Below we’ve outlined more information on loss of vision workplace injuries and your rights.
Common Causes of Loss of Vision
Workers in certain professions are more susceptible to eye injuries and consequently, a loss of vision. Those in the construction and industrial sectors work around harsh chemicals, nails, tools and heavy machinery every day. Among the common causes of severe eye injuries for these workers are:
- Being struck by flying objects
- Being struck by a swinging object
- Dealing with constant dust and debris
- Being in contact with cleaning products or other chemicals
- Prolonged exposure to UV light
Health care workers can also suffer serious, vision-threatening damage to their eyes. They run the risk of exposure to airborne fluids while tending to patients. Not only can they become infected by breathing in infected respiratory droplets, but they also risk infection if any droplets land in their eyes. Any infection can harm their vision, especially if the eye protection equipment they are provided with is inadequate. In addition, an infection can be transmitted from medical equipment used on an infected patient, such as a respirator.
Your Employer’s Responsibilities
Every employer is obligated to provide a safe work environment. That’s the law both at the state and federal levels. And this applies to any employer who has more than one employee—which is the great majority of them.
The office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, has specific guidelines for employee safety as they relate to the face and eyes across a wide range of occupations. While there is no “one size fits all” standard, OSHA does specify that employers must provide employees with protective eyewear applicable to the job they perform.
Among the guidelines OSHA mandates are:
- All safety glasses and goggles should be certified by the American Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Employees in certain industries are required to wear face shields in addition to goggles to avoid welding light and chemical splashes. These shields should have filtered lenses with the appropriate shading needed to protect them from light radiation while they work.
Even when employers provide the proper equipment and comply with all of OSHA’s standards, accidents and eye injuries can occur. This can be caused by a negligent or reckless employee or even a third party, such as a manufacturer. A skilled loss of vision accident attorney can make sure a victim’s rights are upheld, no matter what the circumstances of the loss of vision were.
OSHA also specifies certain workers’ rights. These include:
- The right to safe working conditions.
- Proper training and information that is clear and easy to understand in the worker’s preferred language.
- The right to know about previous worksite injuries and/or illnesses via company logs and records.
- The right to request a workplace inspection from OSHA if an employee fears the workplace poses any danger or if they believe workplace regulations are not being followed. Also, the whistleblower’s identity will be kept confidential.
- The ability to report any injuries, health issues or safety concerns without fear of retaliation.
If an employee does report a concern or injury and their employer still retaliates against them, they can and should file a formal complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the retaliation.
Employees also have the right to work on machinery that has been deemed safe and which is regularly maintained. If any tests have been conducted in the workplace, employees have the right to request a copy of the results. This can be testing for hazardous materials such as toxic chemicals. If the employee feels there are safety issues, they may request an OSHA inspection and meet with the inspector assigned to the case.
Types of Eye Injuries
Any loss of vision is not only painful, it can be extremely traumatic as well. This type of injury can permanently alter a victim’s life and even leave them unable to ever work again. Some of the most common types of workplace eye injuries are:
- Corneal flash burn
- Bone fractures in and around the eyes
- Chemical burn to the eyes
- Eye bleeding, medically known as subconjunctival hemorrhages
- Eye infections leading to blindness or even death
- Eyelid lacerations
- Hyphema, also known as a pooling of blood between the cornea and the iris
- Inflamed iris
- Penetration of the eye by a foreign object
- Scratched cornea, also known as a corneal abrasion
Corneal abrasions, also known as scratches, are one of the most common workplace eye injuries. Often, they occur when a foreign object penetrates the eye. This can cause severe vision loss or even total blindness in the affected eye. Smaller corneal scratches that are left untreated can evolve into corneal ulcers and require immediate medical attention. Delaying or ignoring the treatment of a corneal ulcer can also lead to blindness.
Industrial and construction workers can suffer exposure to dangerous chemicals during their workday. Sometimes, it isn’t direct contact with a chemical that causes severe eye injuries. Simply being near fumes or intense heat can cause damage. What makes exposure to chemicals such as acids or ammonia so dangerous is that even a very small amount can cause permanent eye damage in seconds.
Recognizing the Signs of Eye Damage
Sometimes, workers lose their vision gradually. This can cause them to be initially unaware of changes to their eyesight. For example, anyone who works outside for extended periods without eye protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays can develop severe eye problems such as light sensitivity and tears and swelling, which can lead to a permanent loss of vision. Be aware of any of the signs of eye damage related to your job:
- Severe eye pain that occurs suddenly
- Double or blurred vision
- Seeing “floaters”, that is seeing floating spots or flashes of lights
- Detecting lights or colors around any light
- A sensation of liquid filling one eye
- Itchy, burning eyes
- Swollen, red eyes
- Losing vision in one eye, as though a curtain is dropping on it
- White spots in the pupil area
- Changes to eye color
- Any other changes in vision that happen suddenly
As previously mentioned, health workers run the risk of contracting infections through their eyes from the mucous or blood of infected patients. While they may not suffer trauma to the eye from objects or debris, the damage to their vision can be just as permanent and severe.
What to do if You Injure Your Eye at Work
Your health should always be your first priority. If you injure your eyes at work, seek immediate medical attention. Also, inform your direct supervisor of the injury as soon as you can. Chemical burns or being struck in the eye by an object are injuries that need to be tended to right away. But even a small scratch can be potentially dangerous. If left untreated, it can lead to a loss of vision in the injured eye. As noted in the American Academy of Ophthalmology website, never attempt to treat an eye injury on your own.
Once your eye injury has been treated and you’ve made your employer aware of your accident, you’ll want to speak to a personal injury attorney who is experienced in loss of vision accidents and workers’ compensation claims. That’s because you might need to file both a personal injury and workers’ compensation claim. If your injury was caused by a third party, there could be a third party claim as well.
At The Dominguez Firm, we have attorneys with years of experience successfully filing all three types of claims for injured workers. Filing one claim can be intimidating. Having to deal with two or even three claims at the same time is overwhelming. That’s in addition to trying to recover from your eye injury or adjusting to a loss of vision and all that entails.
Do I have a Workers’ Comp, Personal Injury or Social Security Claim?
The short answer is you certainly have a workers’ compensation claim if you suffered a loss of vision due to an eye injury at work. You may also have a personal injury and social security disability claim.
Here in California, all employers with more than one employee—which is just about all of them, are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you injured your eye at work, you have the right to file a claim. Workers’ compensation will cover medical expenses and lost wages.
If the eye injury is severe enough to leave you unable to work due to a partial or complete loss of vision, Social Security disability benefits are also available to you.
Finally, if your loss of vision was due to negligence or recklessness by an outside party, you may also have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against that person or entity. An example would be suffering a loss of vision due to defective goggles that crack and expose your eyes to harm. You might have a claim against the goggle manufacturer.
Any permanent loss of vision in the workplace can have a devastating impact on you and your family. It can leave you unable to ever work again and completely alter your life. But know that you have rights and The Dominguez Firm can help. We have over 30 years of experience successfully helping employees who have lost their vision in workplace accidents.
A partial or complete loss of vision may leave you unable to continue doing the same work you’ve always known and trained for. Or it may stop you from ever working again. The financial and emotional cost to you and your family can be much greater than you think. In addition to lost wages and medical bills, you need to account for:
- Mental health counseling
- Home modifications
- Re-training for a different career
- For more severe cases, in-home care
The good news is, many state and local resources can help you adjust to your situation. The key to recovery is not just utilizing these resources, it’s having financial peace of mind while doing so. The Dominguez Firm will fight hard for the maximum compensation allowed for your loss of vision accident. We know the cost of a loss of vision accident and the tactics the insurance companies use to avoid paying what you are entitled to.
If you’ve suffered a loss of vision in the workplace, call the loss of vision accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm today for a free and confidential consultation. You can reach us 24/7 at (800)818-1818. And remember, we win, or you don’t pay. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain, so call us today!