Laser technology is an important part of many industries. These powerfully focused beams can be harmful to the body if they are not used correctly. A McHenry worker compensation attorney knows that many people suffer skin or eye injuries from laser exposure. By learning about the injury risks associated with this technology, workers can enjoy an increased standard of safety on the job.
How can a laser damage the body?
Lasers are not just bright lights. They are intensely concentrated sources of radiation and intense heat. They can damage body tissues in just seconds. The eyes are especially vulnerable to laser exposure. Every McHenry worker compensation attorney is familiar with the effects of laser light on the human eye, which can include all of the following:
- Damaged eyesight
- Retinal burns
- Permanent blindness in one or both eyes
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American workers suffer more than 1,000 job-related eye injuries per day. Many of these injuries involve lasers. In some cases, the injury risks of lasers are stronger than the risks of staring directly at the sun.
Why are laser injuries often hard to avoid?
Unlike normal lights, lasers are not always visible to the human eye. Infrared frequencies do not trigger the natural blink reflex. People exposed to infrared lasers in the range of approximately 1000 nanometers may suffer irreversible blind spots or other localized eye damage without feeling any pain or disturbance. Exposure at shorter wavelengths can cause corneal inflammation and other painful eye conditions. When the eye is exposed to laser light for a fraction of a second, the body often cannot react quickly enough to avoid damage.
Safety measures can decrease injury risk
Employees who work with lasers must take appropriate safety measures to decrease the risk of a workplace accident. Guidelines set out by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration include the use of specialized goggles, appropriate training, shields to protect the face and body from radiation, highly visible warning symbols and other cautionary measures. Industry standards have been set for maximum permissible exposure to laser radiation. Employers are required to comply with OSHA regulations for safety and efficiency.
Injured workers have options
Exposure to laser light can cause permanent damage if it is not managed correctly. Employees who have suffered vision loss from laser use on the job may find it helpful to speak with a McHenry worker compensation attorney about their options.