Every part of a construction worker’s body is at risk of injury on a job site, but an injury to one or both eyes is a danger that cannot be overstated. Eyes are not only necessary to everyday work and leisure activities, but they are also extremely vulnerable to injury—and a failure to protect the eyes can result in permanent loss of vision.
Common Causes of Eye Injuries on NYC Construction Sites
Construction work has a higher rate of eye injuries than all other industries. According to a recent study by The Center for Construction Research and Training, construction employees suffer more than 10,600 eye injuries each year that are severe enough to miss work. Even a minor injury can cause pain, lost depth perception, inability to drive, and increased expenses until eyesight is restored.
The biggest eye injury hazards on construction sites include:
- Projectiles. Nails, staples, and pieces of wood or metal can cause eyelid lacerations, fracture the bones around the eye, or penetrate the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision.
- Debris. Tiny shards of glass, metal filings, wood splinters, cut wires, and other projectiles may suddenly fly through the air. If debris cuts or becomes lodged in the eye, a worker may suffer bleeding between the cornea and the iris and an infection that leads to eyeball removal.
- Dust. Particles released during masonry and carpentry (including mixing cement, grinding, sawing, and chipping) can cause eye irritation and inflammation. Workers can easily suffer scratches on the corneas or inflammation of the iris if they attempt to rub sand, sawdust, grit, or powders out of their eyes.
- Chemicals. Contact with paints, solvents, strippers, varnishes, cleaning products, fumes, gases, and other compounds can result in chemical burns that damage the eyes permanently.
- Welding arc. Failure to wear approved face shields when welding can result in corneal flash burn (commonly known as “arc eye”) that can cause blurred vision and increased risk of eye infections.
Who Is Responsible for the Costs of an Eye Injury at Work?
Eye injuries are a covered condition under workers’ compensation, and any employees who have suffered work-related eye damage on a construction site should file for benefits. Unfortunately, the long-term costs of an eye injury may not be fully covered by workers’ compensation. In these cases, workers may be able to sue negligent third parties whose actions contributed to their injuries, such as project managers, contractors, or property owners.
There are many ways a third party’s negligence could have led to your injury. For example, the vast majority of eye injuries can be prevented with the use of proper protective eyewear. Employees have a right to be issued adequate eye and face protection while working on a New York City construction site.
A contractor or project manager may be held liable if eye protection:
- Was not issued to workers
- Did not provide adequate impact protection
- Did not fit the employee properly
- Did not take a worker’s personal needs (such as eyeglass prescription) into account
- Was not tailored to the specific work being performed
- Did not preserve the worker’s peripheral vision
- Was not regularly inspected for damage
- Was damaged or faulty
- Did not have an adequate filter lens for welding
- Was not regularly enforced or addressed in employee training sessions
- Was not reinforced with injury response procedures (such as emergency eyewash station)
If you’ve been hurt on a New York construction site, you should not have to pay for your own medical care and suffer because you are unable to work. Our construction injury attorneys will work to get you the compensation you are owed, and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.