Canadian Rental Service

What went Hong: Take 10 seconds

By James Hong   

Features Government and regulatory

Eye protection is well worth the minor effort.

Personal protective eye equipment is arguably the most misused and ignored safety precaution on construction sites from coast to coast. In my experience, there wouldn’t be much of an argument. Eye protection is probably one of my favorite topics, simply because it’s an opportunity share some valuable information. Let’s get into it: eye protection types, eye protection uses and all things eye protection.

The most common error workers have when it comes to eye PPE is just not wearing any. The purpose of eye safety protection is to prevent injuries from a variety of injury sources and often unanticipated situations such as debris flying in through the sides of unshielded glasses. Other reasons are protecting eyes from dust, chemicals and other unavoidable scenarios caused by standard construction site work, even housekeeping.

The other common error for workers is wearing the wrong kind of eye PPE which increases hazard risks and can and does seriously affect productivity. If you’ve ever worn poorly fitting eye wear for the duration of a long shift, you’ll know what I mean. Everything from pain, pressure points, fog-up and failure to protect the eyes are frequently caused by ill fitting and inappropriate eye protection. This is easily rectified by understanding which eye protection is needed for which job.

Safety glasses are the basic type of eye protection. They are lightweight and come with and without side shields protecting against flying debris and moderate chemical splashes. Wearing safety glasses without side shields is not much better than wearing no glasses at all. 


Safety goggles are for higher levels of protection. A big advantage is they seal tightly against your face, which is effective for protection against dust, chemicals and particles. You can opt to use goggles as your permanent eye protection. The important thing is to prevent fog-up.

Face shields used for welding and grinding protect the full face and are often worn with safety glasses or goggles. The purpose is to provide safety against high-impact hazards, chemical splashes and hot metal. Combining safety goggles with a face shield offers additional protection against a variety of hazards.

Welding helmets offer the option of a mobile visor which can be flipped up when not welding and are designed to provide the highest protection from iris burn, eye burn and face burn from metal and sparks.

Prescription safety glasses are custom glasses for eye protection and vision correction when working with standard eye protection seriously limits vision or when worn together inhibits productivity and causes major discomfort. Real custom prescription glasses meet safety standards and have options for a variety of features like impact-resistant lenses, side shields and anti-scratch and anti-fog coatings.

The safety standards guideline for eye PPE is ANSI Z87.1. Prescription safety glasses should meet the requirements, which sets criteria for impact resistance and optical quality. Look for glasses that are marked with Z87.1. Impact resistance provides for protection against high-velocity impacts without shattering. The lens material should be made of polycarbonate or other impact-resistant material. Frames should be sturdy providing support and durability for the lenses and protection for the eyes. Make sure your prescription safety glasses can accommodate side shields if needed. UV protection is also important for working outside and during high UV exposure.  

Selecting appropriate eye protection is based on the work hazards associated with the tasks you will be completing. It is vitally important to wear well-fitting eye protection in good condition that can be worn comfortably for long durations. Be aware that one serious eye injury can cause vision impairment, affect your quality of life, cost you productivity for work on jobs that require accurate vision and potentially require expensive medical treatment. Taking 10 seconds to put on eye protection is well worth the prevention  provided. And let’s not forget the essentially important requirement to have eye injury solution kits in the first-aid kit. 

James Hong is an independent safety writer and journalist.

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