Each year, more than 800,000 workers sustain eye injuries at their jobs according to the CDC. Those with physical jobs like carpenters, electricians, welders, and assembly line workers are most at risk, but even those that work with computers are at risk for eye damage. For many workers, they don’t even consider their eye damage a work-related injury. However, if you need medical treatment even for minor eye injuries, you deserve to have those medical bills covered.
Common Causes of Eye Injuries At Work
There are many common eye injuries that you would expect to qualify for worker’s compensation, but there are also many others that might surprise you. Not only do dramatic injuries qualify, but repetitive stress injuries as well.
- Projectiles – Most commonly this is projected metal flakes, splintered wood, shards of glass, and anything else that is tiny enough to enter the eye and do damage.
- Tool-Related – Eye injuries that result from staples, nails, wires, saws, or other tools are often more dramatic, and obviously need immediate medical attention.
- Chemical Exposure – When combined with the sensitive skin in or around the eye, chemicals can leave serious burns and result in irreversible blindness.
- Ultra-violet Ray Exposure – Sun lamps, fluorescent light, and lasers can all put off extremely bright light and cause eye damage from it. Long-time or even consistent exposure can lead to side effects like migraines, dizziness, and eye strain. This also can also include backlit computer screens.
Receiving Worker’s Compensation for Eye Injuries
There are federal, state, and even locals laws in place that require your employer to provide protective eye wear to their workers if they are working with particulates or other hazardous materials. This means that employers who fail to comply with that will be subject to substantial fines. However, if they provide eye wear and you simply don’t use it, then that is in no violation, but that doesn’t prevent you from getting worker’s compensation for your injuries.
In most cases of eye injury where the injury needs immediate medical attention, reporting the injury and filing for worker’s compensation should come after medical treatment and as soon as possible to stay within the statute of limitations. However, if you are suffering from eye strain, the process can seem a little trickier, but it really isn’t. If you have started to suffer migraines or any other effects of long-term eye strain, if it gets bad enough that you need to see a doctor, this is also when you should file for worker’s compensation to cover it. However, by reporting this potential injury as soon as the effects start, your employer may be able to take steps to avoid it getting worse.
Unlike other worker’s compensation injuries, those who suffer from eye injuries will likely want to visit a specialist opposed to their primary physician. Eyes can be tricky and by visiting a specialized ophthalmologist they can better diagnose the extent of an eye injury. Visiting a specialist can be especially important with computer eye injuries as there will be fewer questions when they attest that the eye injury came from your job. When filing for worker’s compensation with eye strain injuries, you should probably expect your insurance company to request an independent medical exam from a specialist anyway.
Like with all work injuries that may not be immediately apparent that work was the cause, you need some knowledgeable representation at your side in the form of a worker’s compensation lawyer. If you are an injured worker in the St. Paul area, contact us today. The Law Office of Joshua Borken is dedicated to fighting for the rights of Minnesota’s injured workers.