The High Cost of Eye Injuries

According to The National Safety Council’s Injury Facts, 2016 Edition, there were 22,120 occupational eye injuries in the U.S. private sector during 2013, and these injuries accounted for 2.4 percent of the private-sector injuries that year resulting in days away from work. Injuries affecting the back, hand, head, and knees caused larger percentages of the lost-time cases that year, but eye injuries are especially costly and debilitating.

OSHA has stated that thousands of workers are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented, and the agency reported that eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and workers’ compensation.

Potential eye hazards on the job include:

  • Dust, concrete, metal, and particles
  • Chemical splashes and fumes
  • Radiation (especially visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, and lasers)
  • Bloodborne pathogens in health care from blood and body fluids

Some workers face multiple eye hazards, such as heat and particles simultaneously; conduct a hazard assessment before selecting eye protection for all types of hazardous exposures.

The American Optometric Association advises after an injured worker has used an eyewash or emergency shower unit for the specified 15-minute period, the individual should visit a doctor to determine whether anything more needs to be done for the preservation of his or her vision.