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Eye safety: a major concern among workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 eye injuries occur every year in Oklahoma and the rest of the U.S. Among serious injuries, such as those leading to permanent eye damage and blindness, 40 percent arise in the construction, manufacturing, and mining industries. OSHA estimates that eye injuries cost companies a total of $300 million every year in workers' compensation benefits, lost productivity, and medical expenses.

The problem isn't with a lack of safety regulations but with a lack of proper training. Many workers think they can treat eye injuries themselves rather than get immediate medical help. Many workers neglect to wear the proper eyewear, even though it has been shown that eyewear prevents 90 percent of serious injuries. There is plenty of eye gear available that complies with OSHA standards and has the approval of the American National Standards Institute.

Eye injuries are also frequent among desk workers, especially in the form of eye strain. To reduce this, workers should position their computers 25 inches away from their face and follow the 20-20-20 rule: get up every 20 minutes and gaze at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This relaxes the eyes and allows them to blink at a normal rate. Computer screens should never be brighter than the office surroundings.

In the event of a workplace injury, victims are always eligible for damages through the workers' compensation program. They could be compensated for medical expenses and lost time from work. To receive these benefits, victims need not prove that negligence was behind the injuries; however, they may still want a lawyer by their side to negotiate for the maximum settlement. If the other side disputes the extent of the injuries, the lawyer may be able to bring in medical experts to back up the claim. If a claim is denied, the lawyer could appeal.

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