Out of Sight, Out of Work – Vision Protection on the Job

Using safety glasses at work

How many times have you pushed safety glasses up on your head and forgot to put them back down when you went back to working? Over 700 Canadian workers sustain eye injuries on the job every day according to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), and the vast majority of these injuries are entirely preventable. Eye injuries can lead to vision loss, which negatively affects the quality of daily life, and causes absences from the workplace.

The most common causes of eye injury in the Canadian workplace include the following: flying objects such as metal, glass, stone, or wood; particles such as sand or sawdust getting into the eye; chemicals splashing up into the eye and face area; unsafe handling of tools; sparks and slag when welding or cutting objects; radiation; objects hanging from ceilings; wires or pipes protruding from walls on construction sites; and sun and wind. Almost every single one of these injuries could be prevented by wearing the proper eye protection while on the job.

Many workers believe that if they wear prescription eyeglasses, they cannot wear safety glasses. This is not true – there are models of safety glasses designed to fit over eyeglasses, or if the majority of time is spent in situations where safety glasses would be needed, prescription safety glasses can be ordered that have the prescription built into the safety glasses so there’s no need for duplication. What type of safety eyewear you need will depend on what you are doing – if you are welding, for example, you would want a welding helmet and face shield not just a pair of safety glasses. Working with chemicals often calls for goggles or face shields to minimise the risk of splashes burning the skin on the face.

Modern safety glasses have come a long way from the cumbersome goggles you wore in high school science class. Most styles today come in a sport wrap style that are more reminiscent of sunglasses than safety glasses, but still give you the protection of safety glasses.

When it comes to eye protection, the best rule of thumb is that if there’s any chance there could be an eye injury, you should be wearing safety glasses. It’s far better to have them on and not need them than to not have them on and risk injury.

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How do I make sure to get the right size?

To measure your feet:

  1. Get a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a tape measure.
  2. Stand with one foot on the piece of paper, and have most of your weight on your foot to simulate walking.
  3. Holding the pencil perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the paper, mark a line at the back of your heel and at the tip of your longest toe. Also mark a line along each side of the widest part of your foot.
  4. Measure length and width to the nearest 16th inch and subtract .20 to .25 inches, or .50 centimetres, to account for the width of the pencil.
  5. Find your corresponding size in the charts below.

A couple of tips to get the perfect fit:

  • Measure your feet later in the day as feet normally swell and can become up to half a size bigger in the evening.
  • Measure both feet and use the measurements of the biggest foot. Many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Wear the same type of socks you will generally be wearing on the job when you measure your feet.

Here are some general guidelines to assess fit once you’ve received your new boots:

  • Try on new boots towards the end of the day.
  • Walk around in a clean environment for a couple of hours to make sure the boots are comfortable.
  • Try boots on both feet, as many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle when laced.
  • The inner side of the boot should be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.
  • The boot should grip the heel firmly.

Measuring apparel for proper fit

Size X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large 2X-Large 3X-Large
Neck - Inches 13-13.5 14-14.5 15-15.5 16-16.5 17-17.5 18-18.5 19-19.5
Neck - Centimetres 33-35 36-37 38-39 41-42 43-44 45-47 48-50
Chest - Inches 30-32 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 50-52 54-56
Chest - Centimetres 76-81 86-91 97-102 107-112 117-122 127-132 137-147
Waist - Inches 27-28 29-31 32-34 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50
Waist - Centimetres 68-71 73-78 81-83 91-96 101-106 111-116 121-127

Hint: For the most accurate results, measure yourself in your undergarments.

  • Neck: Measure around the base of your neck, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your neck to allow ease in fit.
  • Chest: Measure around the fullest part of your chest, keeping tape firmly under your armpits and around your shoulder blades.
  • Waist: Measure around your waist, slightly below your natural waist, where you normally wear your pants. Insert your forefinger between the tape and your body to allow ease in fit.
  • Sleeve length: Bend your arm slightly. Measure from centre back neck, across your shoulder, down to your elbow, down to your wrist.
  • Hip: Measure around the fullest part of your hips, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your hip to allow ease in fit.
  • Inseam: Measure a similar pant that fits you well. Measure along the inseam, from the crotch seam to the bottom of the hem.

Between sizes?

If your measurements are in between those listed in the size chart, pick the next larger size.