Eye Injuries at Work: Who’s at Risk?

Your eyes are some of the most vulnerable parts of your body. But there are some people who face more risk than others – and that’s because of their work.

Certain jobs come with a higher risk of eye injuries at work.

A Greek academic study found that the employees most at risk of eye injuries are those who work in:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Industry
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Plumbing and electrical
  • Welding

Those who work with chemicals – for example, refinery workers or those in the pharmaceutical industry – can also face an increased risk of eye injuries because of their jobs.

The importance of PPE

According to the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), 90% of eye injuries could have been prevented from happening.

The Greek researchers also reported that most injuries to eyes in the workplace could be prevented by the proper “protective eye devices”. Protective eyewear – such as safety goggles – can protect your eyes from risks posed by your workplace.

But it’s vital that your employer provides the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). Some chemicals can burn through certain materials, so if you don’t have the appropriate equipment for the specific job you’re doing, you may still be at risk.

The MFT has found that roughly 40% of people who suffered an eye injury at work were wearing some form of eye protection at the time of the accident. But they had been wearing the wrong kind of PPE, eye protection that didn’t fit or equipment that was badly damaged.

Preventing eye injuries at work

Legally, your employer has to provide you with the appropriate protective equipment, which is one of the main ways of preventing eye injuries at work. The PPE you need will depend on your specific task.

The MFT says that if you are working with particles, flying objects or dust, or if you are grinding, hammering or chiselling, you must wear safety glasses with side protection – known as side shields.

Meanwhile, if you are working with chemicals, you’ll need safety goggles. And if you are working near hazardous radiation – as welders or those working with lasers or fibre optics do – you should wear special safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets. These should be designed for the specific task you’re carrying out.

Another important way of preventing eye injuries in the workplace is through education and training. Your employer should ensure that you are taught how to use PPE and how to carry out dangerous work as safely as possible.

Other tips to prevent these accidents include:

  • Don’t work in areas with poor lighting
  • Get regular eye tests
  • Maintain PPE to ensure it works properly
  • Take enough breaks to avoid working while tired

What to do after an eye injury

If you are unlucky enough to suffer an eye injury at work, the first thing you should do is get medical treatment. This could be from a designated workplace first aider or a medical professional. The important thing is to make sure you get the treatment you need as soon as possible.

It’s also important to make sure your employer knows what happened. Try to ensure that they record the accident and your injury in the work accident book. You can also request a copy of the record.

Your eye injury may have been caused by your employer’s negligence. This could be because they did not provide you with the right protective equipment or because they did not train you in the correct way to use it or carry out your task.

They may also have not carried out the risk assessment they are legally required to. Risk assessments are vital as they can help your employer recognise when an activity is too dangerous for you or your colleagues.

If employer negligence was the reason for your accident, you could be able to make a claim against your employer for any injuries you sustain through inadequate PPE.

First4Lawyers could help you claim the compensation that may be hugely helpful while you’re recovering – particularly if your injury is severe enough to stop you working.

To find out how we could match you to one of our specialist personal injury solicitors, just give us a call or start your claim online.


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