Eye Protection Fundamentals

Eye Protection Fundamentals


In the workplace, eyes are often exposed to many risks, from flying objects to chemical agents, dust, or even wood chips. Whenever possible, these hazards should be eliminated or minimized by using the proper equipment and establishing safe work procedures. Appropriate protective eyewear must be selected, maintained, and worn to protect against all hazards that may remain.

Like any other manufactured product, eye protection has various materials, engineering and design characteristics. Selecting the proper safety eyewear to match the specific construction hazard may help reduce the number and severity of eye injuries.

Amid regulations and numerous features of eye protection and lenses, it’s easy to get flustered. Here’s our partial breakdown of eye protection essential principles. You’ll be able to better understand the regulation, making it easier to choose the appropriate eye protection tailored to your needs.

How to recognize safety glasses

Safety glasses are engineered and designed to help protect against impacts, splashes, and radiation.

Lenses: CSA-certified eye and face protectors must meet the criteria for impact resistance as outlined in the standard. Only devices made of approved materials are permitted.

Markings: The manufacturer or supplier certification mark must be present on all approved safety lenses, frames (front and temple), removable side shields, and other parts of the glasses, goggles, or helmets.

Frames: Safety frames are stronger than streetwear frames and are often heat resistant. They are also designed to prevent lenses from being pushed into the eyes.1

Eye Protection Classes

To better understand what eye protection is recommended for a particular work hazard, you must know the various types available on the market. The CSA Standard Z94.3-15: Eye and Face Protectors groups safety eyewear into seven classifications:

  • Class 1 – Spectacles
  • Class 2 – Goggles
  • Class 3 – Welding Helmets
  • Class 4 – Welding Hand Shields
  • Class 5 – Hoods
  • Class 6 – Face Shields
  • Class 7 – Respirator Facepieces

All about lenses

Currently, there is a wide offer of lenses, each designed for a specific application. Lenses can be polarized, clear, tinted, and much more. Each offers distinct levels of ultraviolet protection. Be careful - some coloured lenses may offer no UV protection.

Conduct a hazard assessment to identify the hazards you may be exposed to, and then select an appropriate lens to properly protect yourself.

Lens Selection Guide

The 3M Lens Selection Guide can help you understand the differences and support you through choosing the right lens for your application and environment:

  • Clear: maximum amount of light reaches the eye for good vision and acuity.
  • Grey, bronze: reduces brightness and glare from the sun.
  • Mirror and coloured mirror: reduces brightness and glare from the sun.
  • Indoor/outdoor: reduces brightness and glare when working both indoors and outdoors.
  • Photochromic: reduces brightness and glare from the sun and indoor lighting.
  • Polarized: reduces brightness and glare from the sun.
  • Yellow/amber: increases contrast, reduces haze from blue lighting, excellent UV protection.
  • Blue: reduces brightness and glare from indoor lighting.
  • Filter shades, green and grey: reduces ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radiation.

Eyewear fit and care

Proper fit is crucial since discomfort is the most frequent motive behind not wearing safety glasses. The right fit is a firm but not too tight fit, that will be as close to the eye as possible without hitting the lashes. Since temple length, eyes, and noses sizes all vary, eyewear should be individually fitted to reduce the gaps between the edges of the glasses and your face:

  • Make sure your glasses allow you to see in all directions without inconvenience or obstruction.
  • Check if your eyewear fit over the temples and ears. The frame needs to be close to the face and properly supported by the bridge of your nose.
  • The frame should cover from your eyebrow to the cheekbone, across the nose to the area outside of your face and eyes.


Safety glasses are subjected to many damage-causing hazards. Like all equipment, eye protection must be cared for and inspected daily:

  • Inspect and clean your equipment regularly.
  • Clean the lenses with clear water to remove abrasive dust. Cleaning lenses when they are dry can scratch the surface.
  • Handle your eyewear with care. Rough handling can cause scratches and damage the lenses.
  • Store your eyewear in a clean and dry case to protect them when they’re not being worn.
  • Repair loose frames or scratched and pitted lenses as soon as possible. Replace damaged parts from the original manufacturer.
  • Do not change or modify the protective device.

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1 Canadian Centre for Occupational Health - Eye and Face Protectors : OSH Answers https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/prevention/ppe/glasses.html