There are close to two million welders in the country, and around 562,000 employees are at risk for eye injuries each year. Employees that work with fabricated metal, commercial and industrial machinery, and computer equipment are at the highest risk.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that burns to the eye make up 5.6 percent of construction eye injuries. This is due to the ultraviolet (UV) light from the welder’s arc. The light damages the worker’s cornea, and this is often compared to sunburn. UV and other types of radiation from welding can also cause arch flash, which can build up over time; certain studies have shown that long term UV exposure can even lead to cataracts.
Eyes injuries can also be caused from working with chemicals, as the fumes lead to chemical burns and eye irritation. Getting struck in the eye from chipped slag and flying particles can also cause damage. These events can all lead to significant pain, tearing, swelling, and vision loss.
Not all welders have thorough training. Some learn skills at vocational-technical schools, while others become professionally certified. There are different welding organizations that provide training services. Employers are responsible for explaining any workplace hazards and specifying the proper procedures for their jobsite.
Welders must always use protective gear, such as goggles and helmets. There are also masks that have sensors that can adjust the lens to accommodate for the welder’s arc. This gear should be carefully inspected before every use since a cracked pair of goggles may not protect the eyes if something goes wrong.
Employers should have first-aid equipment, specific emergency procedures, and trained personnel ready to step in should an accident occur. There are specific steps to take for eye injuries, depending on the situation. If a small dust particle gets in the eye or there is a chemical splash, the eyes should be flushed with water. If a larger object is embedded within the eye, it should not be removed, since doing so could cause further injury. This should be handled by medical professionals.
Welders are not the only workers at risk for eye injuries. Other employees should be cautious when entering welding areas, since they could face the same hazards. These areas should have signs posted warning the dangers to employees. Safety measures to enclose the welding area should include shields and screens. Some welders may also wear contact lenses, but these do not serve as a barrier against eye injury. These workers must also wear eye protection.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks LLP Represent Workers Suffering from Eye Injuries
Eye injuries can be devastating. If you suffered an eye injury at work, contact a knowledgeable Cherry Hill workers’ compensation lawyer at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks LLP today. For a free consultation, call us at 856-761-3773 or complete an online form. Our office is in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and we represent workers throughout South Jersey, including the City of Camden.