Sight is our most precious sense. A large part of our ability to perceive the world around us depends on it. However, our eyes are very delicate organs and can be damaged easily. It is important to protect your eyes by wearing protective eyewear suited to the job, process or procedure. Every year in Canada, employees sustain serious eye injuries that result in time lost from work. Statistics indicate that most eye injuries can be prevented by using adequate shields and glasses.
The most common hazards to the eyes and face are:
- dust and dirt blown around by the wind;
- tree branches;
- flying particles from drilling, cutting, digging and other similar operations;
- ultraviolet radiation from welding and electrical work;
- fibres from insulating materials, such as fibreglass; and
- irritants and corrosives.
Types of protective shields and eyewear:
Type of Protection Needed (Based on ANSI Z87.1-2015 Standard)
Safety glasses with sideshield protection, goggles with direct or indirect ventilation, faceshields worn over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, welding helmets worn over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, loose-fitting respirators worn over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, full-facepiece respirators
Goggles with direct or indirect ventilation (eyecup or cover type), full-facepiece respirators
Goggles with indirect or non-vented ventilation, faceshields worn over indirect vent or non-vented goggles, loose-fitting respirators worn over safety glasses or indirect vent or non-vented goggles, full-facepiece respirators
Welding helmets over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, faceshields over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, welding goggles, welding faceshields over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, welding respirators, safety glasses with or without side protection with shade or special purpose lenses, goggles with direct or indirect ventilation, faceshields worn over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, loose-fitting respirators worn over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, full-facepiece respirators
Safety glasses with sideshield protection, goggles with direct or indirect ventilation, faceshields worn over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, full-facepiece respirators, loose-fitting respirators worn over safety glasses, screen faceshields worn over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles, reflective faceshields worn over safety glasses or direct or indirect vented goggles
Standard safety glasses
Standard safety glasses protect eyes from flying particles of metal, wood, stone, plastic or glass coming from the front only.
Safety glasses with semi-side shields
Safety glasses with semi-side shields protect eyes from flying particles coming from the front or the side.
Safety glasses with eye-cup and side shields
Safety glasses with eye-cup and side shields protect eyes from flying particles coming from the front, the side, above or below.
Safety goggles with regular ventilation (direct air flow)
Safety goggles with regular ventilation (direct air flow) protect eyes from dust, sparks and flying particles coming from any direction.
Safety goggles with hooded ventilation (indirect air flow)
Safety goggles with hooded ventilation (indirect air flow) form a tight seal around the eyes to protect from dust, sparks, vapours, splashes and flying particles. They have indirect vents that allow air, but not irritants, to pass through.
Welding helmets and hand-held shields
Welding helmets and hand-held shields protect the eyes, face, ears and neck from radiation, sparks and molten metal. They are opaque, bowl-shaped protective devices, each containing a window with filter glass that allows workers to see what they are doing while protecting their eyes from harmful radiation.
Face shields are designed to protect the face and neck from flying particles and sprays of hazardous liquids. They also provide antiglare protection. Such devices are always worn in addition to basic protective eyewear.
* It is absolutely necessary to wear approved eye protection in high risk areas.
Good protective eyewear should:
- be light and fit comfortably;
- not obstruct your field of vision;
- allow you to see clearly;
- block harmful radiation when necessary;
- be adapted to your working position;
- comply with CSA International safety standards for protective eyewear;
- be well ventilated; and
- have good optical quality and be scratch resistant.
- Safety glasses have tempered glass or polycarbonate lenses that are impact resistant and stronger than ordinary lenses. There are prescription and non-prescription safety glasses.
- Safety frames are also stronger than regular frames. They are heat resistant and help prevent the lenses from being pushed toward the eyes.
Care of safety glasses
- Inspect your safety glasses daily. Replace them if they are scratched, pitted, bent, broken or don’t fit, as this weakens them and reduces their impact resistance.
- Cleaning your safety glasses frequently is good practice
- follow the manufacturer’s instructions, however there are several ways goggles can be cleaned. Many goggles have special lens coatings. If you use a wipe to clean or dry the lens, you must be careful not to scratch or damage the coating. If a towelette is preferred for cleaning, consider using a moistened towelette to gently wipe the lens. You may also simply rinse the debris from the lens with running water and allow the goggles to dry naturally.
- Store your safety glasses in a clean, dry place where they cannot fall and break.
- Carry your safety glasses in a case marked with your name on it.
- Contact lenses and regular eyeglasses are never, at any time, a substitute for protective eyewear. Protect your vision with approved safety eyewear if there is even the slightest chance you could be injured while working.
- Work areas where there is very little light can be dangerous for your vision because they produce greater brightness contrasts. Semi-darkness can cause problems with depth perception, obscure hazardous conditions and prevent a clear view of your work environment.
- Glare is caused by direct sources of light (such as the sun, lamps and windows) and by indirect sources that reflect light (such as glass, shiny metals and glossy paints and papers). Glare reduces visibility and causes discomfort. Squinting, moving your head and changing positions are signs that you are trying to avoid glare. Lighting that is correctly placed, effective and well-maintained promotes eye comfort, eye safety and quality of work.
- Note: Sunglasses should be worn for outdoor work only. Good sunglasses provide protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays (yellow or brown lenses).
- Have your vision tested regularly by a qualified professional because:
- If you need corrective lenses and wear only ordinary plano safety glasses, your vision problem may worsen;
- Poor vision that is not corrected can adversely affect the quality of your work and your safety;
- Your near vision should be tested at the actual distance at which you do your job. Your safety lenses can then be adjusted to match your prescription.
- Keep your eyes well away from a tool’s trajectory in case the tool breaks.
- When opening containers of acids, caustics or other hazardous liquids, be sure to turn your head to the side.
- When doing polishing work, keep your face a safe distance from the machine.
- Keep sharp and pointed objects away from your face and eyes.
- Never wipe your face or eyes with dirty hands or handkerchiefs because chips or particles clinging to them can accidentally enter your eyes.
- Pay attention to safety signs. Wear the protective eyewear indicated for that area.
- Also protect your eyes at home when operating hand or power tools, trimming trees and hedges, using household cleaners or spreading fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides.
- Know the location of eyewash and lens cleaning stations, the nearest clean water supply and where you can obtain medical assistance
Government of Canada, Workplace Health and Safety, Health and Safety Reports and Publications
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