Did you know that it only takes between 6 and 8 seconds for a chemist to pierce the outer membrane of the eye? In short, it takes seconds for a chemical to cause eye damage. Every industry is subject to eye injuries because every business has chemicals on site. These chemicals could be in cleaning products or materials used in production. Sadly, exposure to chemicals can end a career, and each year, between 7 and 18% of occupational injuries are injuries to the eye from exposure to chemicals. In these cases, there are two types of substances:
An acid is a substance with a pH of less than 7. While many people understand that exposing any part of their bodies to acids can be dangerous, the reality is that acids do not cause as much damage to the alkaline substances of the eye.
When an acid comes in contact with the eye, it “denatures” it by forming a barrier in the cornea that prevents the acid from penetrating the eye’s deeper tissue. However, that does not mean that acid exposure should not be taken seriously and treated immediately to avoid permanent damage.
- Sulfamic acid
- Sulfuric acid
- Hydrochloric acid
- Hydrofluoric acid
- Nitric acid
- Boric acid
- Phosphoric acid
In addition to causing permanent damage to the eye, if the acid burns more than 2% of the body, the patient runs the risk of suffering from hypocalcemia for the rest of his life.
When a substance has a pH higher than 7, it is an alkaline substance. These chemicals are usually lipophilic, which means they can be combined with fats. In this way, alkaline substances penetrate the eye easily and reach deeper tissues.
Here are some examples of common alkaline substances in the workplace:
- Sodium hydroxide
- Calcium hydroxide
- Potassium hydroxide
Eye injuries classified by severity
As with many injuries, there are many “levels” depending on the damage to the eye:
This type of lesion is the least severe, and the damage is usually in the corneal epithelium. The chemical does not penetrate deeply into the eye. In general, patients with this type of injury can recover their vision entirely without problems.
There could be a visually horny haze and some damage to the cornea. Patients who suffer this type of injury can have positive diagnoses, although there may be permanent damage to the cornea.
These cases usually occur when the chemical penetrates deep into the eye, damaging the eye’s corneal limbus and other parts. In many cases, the vision is not fully recovered and, to obtain the best result, the patient must undergo a surgical procedure.
When the eye suffers a grade 4 injury, the cornea melts and may damage the entire eye. This type of injury usually ends in complete loss of vision.
If immediate actions are taken seconds after an accident, the employee can reduce additional damages. Still, employers must do everything possible to provide the employee with the necessary resources and training.
The training should include information on all chemicals that could potentially damage the eye and the location of emergency items, such as washing stations and showers. It is essential to keep in mind that all employees should know where the showers and memory stations are since, in an emergency, they may be temporarily blinded.
What can I do if I lose my sight and cannot return to work?
By law, all employers must have workers’ compensation insurance and, if a work injury occurs, the employee can claim the insurance. In this way, compensation can be obtained for medical expenses and lost wages.
Social Security Disability
Social security disability benefits can offer payments to people who cannot work because of a disability or illness.
Personal injury lawsuits
When an accident occurs due to a third party’s error, the injured worker has the option of claiming the responsible party. The compensation obtained in that lawsuit can help cover past and future medical expenses and lost income and compensate for physical suffering and emotional trauma.About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud platform where their QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools are hosted in an efficient SSO environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.