Skip to main content
  • Workplace Eye Injuries Cost Time, Money, and Vision

    Reviewed By Anne Sumers MD
    Edited By Anni Delfaro
    Published Jan. 24, 2024

    Workplace eye injuries cost an estimated $300 million per year in worker’s compensation, medical treatment, and lost productivity, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A simple precaution could prevent up to 90% of these injuries and protect thousands of workers every year. 

    How Common Are Eye Injuries at Work?

    Eye injuries at work are alarmingly common. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 20,000 eye injuries occur in the workplace each year and often require one or more missed work days for recovery. These injuries range from simple eye strain to severe trauma that can cause permanent eye damage or vision loss. 

    The most important thing you can do to protect your vision at work is to always wear appropriate protective eyewear. This can prevent more than 90% of serious eye injuries.

    What Are the Most Dangerous Jobs for Your Eyes? 

    In addition to eyewear, use machine guarding, work screens, or other engineering controls to protect your eyes from hazards such as:

    • Flying shards of metal or glass;
    • Tools that slip or malfunction;
    • Particles such as wood splinters, metal shavings or crystalline silica;
    • Spattered chemicals;
    • Any combination of these or other hazards.

    What Is the Best Protective Eyewear for You? 

    The eyewear you need depends on the hazards you face. Wear:

    • Safety glasses with side protection (side shields) if you work around particles, flying objects, or dust;
    • Goggles if you handle chemicals;
    • Specially designed safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets if you work near hazardous radiation, such as welding, lasers, or fiber optics.

    All protective eyewear should comply with OSHA regulations for eye and face protection. OSHA also provides information about the types of filter lenses required for specific welding and cutting activities (PDF 181 KB), and cautions about the danger of eye irritation from welding fumes (PDF 405 KB) as well. Your gear should also meet the eye protection standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

    Here's How To Help an Injured Coworker:

    Workers and employers should know how to recognize an eye injury and get professional medical attention right away. Delaying treatment can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

    Although serious eye damage is not always immediately apparent, some signs to look out for if you or someone else gets injured include:

    • The person has obvious pain or trouble seeing;
    • The person has a cut or torn eyelid;
    • One eye does not move as well as the other;
    • One eye sticks out compared to the other;
    • The eye has an unusual pupil size or shape;
    • There is blood in the clear part of the eye;
    • The person has something in the eye or under the eyelid that can't be easily removed.
    Share these stats on social by downloading our workplace eye injury infographics.