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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