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Safety violation: The dangers of unmaintained eyewash stations

Ohio workers in industries in which hazards exist that can cause eye injuries or infections may believe that eyewash stations can protect them from harm. Not providing eyewash stations can lead to a citation for a safety violation for employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has emphasized that facilities improperly maintained can cause serious harm.

The agency says organisms can breed in water that is untreated and stagnant. Organisms that typically exist in such conditions include Legionella, Acanthamoeba and Pseudomonas. Workers can be infected through contaminated water as well as through their skins and inhalation. For this reason, OSHA recommends strict compliance with the instructions of manufacturers of eyewash stations.

Acanthamoeba keratitis can cause eye injuries, including redness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, tearing and inflammation. Pseudomonas can cause not only eye infections but also infections in the lungs, muscles and skin. If it enters the worker's bloodstream, it can cause confusion, chills, fevers, shock and even death. Legionella is known to cause lung infections that could develop into Legionnaires disease which is a fatal form of pneumonia.

A worker who has suffered injury or illness on the job, including those related to this potential safety violation,  is entitled to pursue financial relief. Benefits claims may be filed with the Ohio workers' compensation insurance system. Compensation typically covers medical expenses and lost income, but in some cases, it may be hard to prove that such an injury is work-related. In such cases, an experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide assistance investigating the source of the infection and advocating for the worker's right to receive fair compensation.

Source: ehstoday.com, "An Emergency at the Eyewash Station", March 4, 2016

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