Eye Protection in the Workplace
Eye injuries may result in eye infections, retinal or corneal burns, diminished eyesight or blindness
Risks and hazards to eyes
- Blindness or other injuries may be caused by flying rock or metal chips when using a rock hammer or a chisel, or when sharp objects or tools impact the eyes.
- Eye injuries may result when dust or debris gets into eyes, or when branches whip into eyes while traversing or riding an ATVs or snowmobiles etc.
- Burns or eye damage may result from contact with chemicals or from broken hoses that eject hydraulic fluids
- Retinal damage (even blindness) may result from welding or the use of lasers or UV lights
Prevention and preparation
Protect your eyes and sight by wearing appropriate safety glasses, goggles, or a face shield when exposed to hazards.
- In Canada, safety eyewear should meet the CAN/CSA-Z94.3 Industrial Eye and Face Protectors standard for impact resistance.
- In the USA, industrial protective eye glasses must meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard.
- Lenses should be appropriate for the job and work location
- Clear lenses are appropriate for most work and should offer almost 100% ultraviolet (UV) protection.
- Tinted or dark lenses with UV protection are essential when working where there is high sun exposure (e.g., snowfields, glaciers, on water, in deserts and at high altitude). Tinted lenses in safety glasses are available that offer full UV protection.
- Coloured lenses: Grey and green lenses are best for drivers in order to see traffic lights. Amber lenses are best for seeing contrast, such as when working on ice, snow and water. Lenses should not be so dark that they diminish your vision.
- Transitional or 'photochromatic' lenses that change colour in response to the level of light are often acceptable for work in areas where the light levels vary, but they may not be dark enough for protection when working on snow and water.
- Polarized lenses are important for work locations where glare is a factor such as on snowfields, glaciers and on water.
- UV protection should protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. Most safety glasses offer very good UV protection and are available with tinted lenses.
- If safety glasses are not required, wear sunglasses when working where your eyes are exposed to extra sunlight as described above. One solution is to wear polarizing 'clip-on' lenses that fit over sunglasses with UV protection
- Cold weather - wear eye protection with frames made of nylon or rubber as they do not become brittle.
- Ask a supervisor if you are unsure of which type of equipment or lenses are appropriate
- Tip: To remove goggles or safety glasses after working in dusty or gritty areas, tilt your head forward and downward. Close your eyes and release the straps holding the glassesfrom the back of your head. Pull them away and downward so any debris falls away from your eyes
Wear safety glasses with side shields or goggles at the following work sites or when performing some jobs such as:
- During any and all exposure to broken or flying rock. This includes sampling rocks, splitting core or whenever you are near someone doing this work.
- Operating a chainsaw, core saw, rock saw, core splitter
- Sites where heavy machinery is present
- Drill sites
- Mine sites
- Traversing through wooded and brushy areas
- Working in dusty conditions
- Riding ATVs or snowmobiles on narrow, heavily wooded trails
- Working at or near helicopter landing sites
- Blasting operations
Goggles are a safer choice for the following jobs:
- Slinging overhead loads: Safety glasses can blow off if not firmly attached to your head.
- Working above eye level
- Handling hazardous or corrosive fluids or materials
- Boosting batteries
- Using ultraviolet (UV) lamps
- Using additional eye protection with a face shield
Wearing contact lenses creates additional safety issues
Always wear safety glasses or other appropriate eye protection in addition to contact lenses, as the lenses do not protect your eyes from injury. In some circumstances their presence may increase the potential risk of eye injury.
- Always wear safety goggles with no side perforations if it is necessary to handle corrosive or hazardous fluids. They prevent them from getting into your eyes and under the lenses and potentially causing extensive eye damage
- Practice wearing a respirator with your contact lenses before working for long periods.