According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, wearing protective gloves is like second nature for EMS and health care workers; however, many fail to wear adequate eye protection. This applies to workers in California and other states. The AAO says almost 20,000 eye injuries are reported each year in all industries, and nine in 10 of the victims of those injuries did not wear protective eyewear. A 2016 study determined that wearing eye protection is a matter of personal preference and not seen as an essential part of workplace safety.
The lack of eye protection put EMS workers at risk of injuries caused by various airborne particles of debris, flying objects, chemicals and fluids. These workers are frequently exposed to bloodborne pathogens, and their eyes are often exposed to harmful UV rays. Regular prescription eyeglasses do not protect against any of these objects or substances that could make contact with the health care workers' mucous membranes in their eyes.
Eye protection comes in different types that include goggles, which provide the best protection from respiratory droplets, sprays, splashes, particles and debris. Face shields are typical of EMS or fire helmet ensembles; however, they can be stand-alone disposable shields for others to use. Full face respirators or masks provide the best protection but are impractical for use by EMS and health care workers.
Any EMS or health care workers who suffered eye injuries in the line of duty are entitled to claim workers' compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. An experienced California attorney can provide valuable assistance throughout the claims process. If permanent eye damage was caused, the lawyer could help to secure additional benefits.