Welders have a very physically demanding and risky job. They face many safety and health risks, such as exposure to flying metal particles, chemicals and extremely high temperatures. Among the most common injuries welders suffer are eye injuries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that each year, more than 2,000 workers suffer eye injuries that require medical treatment and approximately one out of every ten will miss days of work due to their eye injury.
Workers’ Compensation Claims for Eye Injuries
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), eyes were the most injured body part in all workers’ compensation claims during 2000. Researchers in the study analyzed workers’ compensation claims over a one-year period, including those of 1,353 welders and 822 non-welders. Eye injuries comprised five percent of all claims and 25 percent of all workers’ compensation claims filed by welders.
Common Eye Injuries Among Welders
At the time of the injury, workers were usually performing one of two activities – welding and grinding – which together accounted for over 50 percent of all cases. Most eye injuries were caused by foreign bodies or burns, and 56.3 percent of cases involved a worker being struck by an airborne object. Some common eye injuries suffered by welders include:
- Blunt trauma – If a worker suffers a blow to the eye, they may suffer blunt eye trauma. This can cause a variety of symptoms including lid lacerations, orbital wall fractures, traumatic iritis, punctures and bleeding.
- Chemical injury – It is important for workers who handle chemicals to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the chemicals from splashing in their eyes. Chemical injuries to the eye may cause vision loss or blindness.
- Cornea injuries – The cornea is the transparent layer covering the eye that helps to refract light. Corneal abrasions, or scratches, may occur when flying metal, dust, wood or other particles get in the eye, especially if the worker rubs their eyes.
- Detached retina – The retina is the thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye. If it pulls away from its normal position (detaches), it increases the risk of vision loss the longer it is untreated.
- Flash burns – When a worker is exposed to bright ultraviolent (UV) light such as that from a welding torch, it can cause flash burns. A flash burn causes inflammation of the cornea, blurred vision and eye pain.
Obtaining Compensation for Eye Injuries
Most injured Pennsylvania employees, including welders, are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including compensation for reasonable medical expenses and wage loss. Those who suffer a serious and permanent disfigurement of the head, face or neck may also receive specific loss benefits for up to 275 weeks, depending on the severity of their injury. These types of cases tend to be more complex than a typical workers’ compensation claim, therefore it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Welders Who Suffered Eye Injuries
We have more than 35 years of experience representing all types of workers throughout the state, including those in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.