If you have suffered an eye injury on the job in the maritime industry, you may be entitled to certain rights, including compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. An eye injury may be minor, but it also has the potential to be serious and cause permanent damage to the eyes. Make sure you work with an experienced advocate after an injury to ensure you have the best chance of receiving compensation.
Types of Eye Injuries
Damage to the eye may result from one of many different types of injuries or accidents.
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A trauma, like a blunt blow to the eye, can potentially damage the eyelid, lens, iris, cornea, and even the back of the eye, including the retina and optic nerve. A direct strike may also fracture the orbital bone surrounding the eye socket.
Being struck with a sharper object may cause lacerations to the eyelid and various structures of the eyeball, including the tear duct.
A puncture wound to the eye may result from being stabbed with or falling on a sharp or narrow object.
Even more common than traumatic injuries is getting debris in the eyes, like particles of dust, metal, dirt, or other substances. Infections in the eye can cause redness, inflammation, pain, or itchiness.
In less common situations, the eyes may be damaged by chemical spills, fumes in the air, or may be burned by fire or steam.
Complications of Eye Injuries
Eye injuries are often minor. For example, getting debris in the eye may cause irritation and blurry vision for a short period. However, the eye can heal once the material is flushed out, and normal vision typically returns.
Depending on the severity of the accident and injury, though, the damage may be more serious and long-lasting. An eye injury can even result in permanent vision loss and disability.
Potential complications of eye injuries, in addition to vision loss and blindness, include:
- Recurring injuries
- Infections in the eyes
- Eye dryness
- Cornea scarring
- Blood trapped in the eye
- A torn iris
- Hemorrhaging in the eye
- A detached retina
- Glaucoma with reduced vision over time
How Are Eye Injuries Treated?
Any eye injury should be treated by a doctor or specialist, but in many maritime situations, that may not be possible immediately. First aid care for eye injuries may be needed for someone injured on a ship out at sea or offshore rig without access to a doctor.
- The eye should not be touched or rubbed.
- If the eyes have been damaged by chemicals, flushing them with water is crucial.
- Letting the tears wash them out is usually adequate for particles in the eyes, but eyewash can also be used.
For more severe damage to the eye, it is essential to get medical attention as soon as possible. A doctor or ophthalmologist can examine the eye and determine the needed treatment.
Treatment may involve removing foreign objects, administering medication to battle an infection, or even surgery to repair damage and attempt to restore vision.
Eye Injuries in Maritime Work
The maritime industry is full of potential hazards that can cause eye injuries and damage:
- Debris in the work environment can get in the eyes and cause damage.
- Accidents that cause strikes to the eye may cause damage ranging from mild to severe, including lacerations, bruising, corneal damage, and even puncture wounds in and around the eyes.
- Fishing lines and hooks can get caught on eyelids or get in the eyes and cause serious damage.
- Equipment parts may strike a worker in the face and damage the eyes.
- Mishandling chemical cargo may harm eyes, as can steam from pipes and boilers.
All maritime work environments can potentially cause eye injuries, but some are riskier than others. Shipyards can be areas where eye injuries are typical results of accidents and mistakes.
Men and women working on building or repairing ships are vulnerable to eye injuries and loss of vision from the ultraviolet radiation of welding and cutting tools and particulates and dust in the air.
The work these individuals do can put them at risk for eye damage and vision loss, but even those not working with welding tools can be harmed by the work around them.
Eye injuries in a maritime setting are possible but also preventable. Appropriate eye protection can prevent most injuries, but safety training is also important.
Training ensures that workers know how to use safety gear when to wear protection, how to use the equipment correctly and safely, and how to secure and work with harmful cargo like chemicals.
What to Do if You Suffer an Eye Injury on the Job
If you work in the maritime industry and your eyes are injured in an accident, get medical attention immediately. Immediate treatment is essential for avoiding severe and long-lasting damage. If you can get to an eye doctor right away, do so.
Once you have received treatment and a prognosis from your doctor, file an accident report with your employer. Your report, eyewitness testimony, and medical records will be important in making a claim for compensation if you need it.
Your next step should be to contact a maritime lawyer. Speak with this professional before you agree to any compensation from your employer.
There are laws in place to protect your interests, so make sure you have an expert in your corner to guide you as you decide how to proceed. Your eye damage may be lasting and need as much compensation as possible.