For eye and face protection to be effective, it must be properly selected for the job and fitted to the wearer.

In General:

  1. Be sure it fits
  2. Clean it properly
  3. Wear it

The hierarchy of controls must be followed prior to selection of eye or face protection. This requires a proper hazard assessment and risk analysis to be conducted prior to selection of eye/face protection.

Activities requiring eye and face protection

  • Sparks, open flame and spatters
  • Molten metals
  • Research activities involving high energy, the possibility of flying particles, explosion or implosion of vessels
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Wood or metal processing, particularly grinding, welding, chipping, sawing and sanding
  • Groundskeeping: using line trimmers, leaf blowers, lawnmowers
  • Injurious radiant energy, for example, welding, ultra-violet light, lasers and brazing
  • Any activity that creates a potential for eye or face injury

Certified eye and face protectors

Any PPE used to protect the eyes or face must meet CSA Z94.3 specifications. Certification marks can be found on the lenses or frames.

Contact lenses

Contact lenses, whether soft or hard, do not provide eye protection. Care should be taken when wearing contact lenses while performing certain types of work, including;

  • Exposure to chemical vapours.
  • Potential for chemical splashes.
  • Airborne particulates or dust.
  • Intense heat
  • Dry atmospheric conditions
  • Handling of caustic substances

It is possible for dust or chemicals to be trapped behind the lens causing irritation or damage to the cornea or both. Very hot or dry conditions or chemical splashes present additional risk for those wearing soft contacts. Soft contacts have a higher water content that can make it easier for them to dry out or allow some chemicals to pass through the lens. Risk of damage to the eye can potentially be increased when removing the lens after exposure to contaminants. Contact lenses must be removed before flushing at an eyewash station.

Laser protective eyewear

All laser use must be initially approved by the Laser Safety Officer (LSO) and upon significant alteration of the laser setup. Determination of proper laser protective eyewear is based upon the class and the wavelength of the laser, thus a pair of protective eyewear for one laser may offer no protection against another laser.

Fit testing

Correct coverage of protective eyewear must cover from the eyebrow to the cheekbone and from the nose to the bony area on the outer surfaces of each eye. Insufficient coverage will create gaps. Eye protection should also be comfortable. Uncomfortable eyewear increases the likelihood the user will not wear them properly or at all. Many eye protectors have adjustable nose pads and temple arms.

Lens colour

Lens colour affects the properties, applications and limitations.

Lens Colour Properties Applications and Limitations
Clear Optically clear
  • Good for low light conditions
  • For impact protection only
  • Can offer UV protection
  • Tinted lenses come in a variety of colours
  • Reduce light transmission but may not contain any other absorbing properties
  • Outdoor use for glare
  • Amber lenses can enhance contrast in low light
  • Can distort perception of colours (eg. traffic lights)
Photochromic Lenses darken when exposed to sunlight and lighten when indoors
  • Outdoor use for glare
  • Might not lighten fast enough for quick transition from light to dark environments
Polarized Lenses with polarization block reflected glare
  • Outdoor use for reflected glare light
  • Can mask liquid crystal displays
  • Designed to filter out harmful UV and IR radiation
  • Available in shades 1.5 to 14
  • Used for welding, cutting, soldering, etc.
  • Shade must be light enough to see work but dark enough to provide protection (refer to a welding specialist for specific advice)

Classes of eye protection

Type Illustration Recommended for
Class 1 -Spectacles with side shields Class 1 -Spectacles with side shields Protection from flying particles: from front or side
Class 2A - Goggles with direct ventilation Class 2A - Goggles with direct ventilation Protection from dusts, sparks, and flying particles coming from many angles
Class 2B - Goggles with indirect ventilation Class 2B - Goggles with indirect ventilation Protection from chemical splashes, dusts, sparks, and flying particles coming from many angles
Class 6 - Face shields Class 6 - Face shields Face protection from: splashes, heat, glare, and flying particles when worn over safety glasses or goggles. Face shields alone do not provide adequate eye protection