Make Safety Your Focus – Workplace Eye Injuries Cost Time, Money, and Vision

May 14, 2024

It often happens in an instant. Workplace eye injuries occur more often than you would think. Each year thousands of Canadians sustain needless eye injuries at work that result in temporary or permanent vision loss. The pain and suffering associated with these incidents are immeasurable, and the impact of lost time and financial cost impacts both workers and employers.

Prevention is crucial to employee eye safety, which also leads to productivity and financial stability of the company. It’s a win-win when you have a strategy in place to prioritize using safety eyewear, and it’s as simple as:

  1. Assessing hazards
  2. Selecting the right eyewear
  3. Educating employees


Assessing hazards

Before work begins, or when there are changes in work conditions, it’s essential to conduct a hazard assessment. Consider all types of hazards, including biological, chemical, physical, and safety hazards. Consider all aspects of the job, including routine and non-routine tasks such as maintenance, repair, and cleaning. Take special note of the tools used and any chemicals handled.

Complete a field-level hazard assessment (FLHA) all employees before work starts. In your discussion, cover tasks, review all recognized hazards, and confirm the plan to control the hazards. For fixed or routine operations, you can complete the assessment once and record it formally as a task-specific hazard assessment (THA) or job safety analysis (JSA). The THA or JSA process would typically involve employees who routinely complete the work or supervise these work operations and who are skilled at it. The resulting document would be communicated to all employees impacted, serving as a reference for safe work practices.


Selecting the right safety eyewear

The outcome of a hazard assessment is a complete and documented understanding of the hazards associated with a given job. A good hazard assessment and control strategy will include guidelines for using personal protective equipment such as safety eyewear. When selecting proper safety eyewear, several factors need careful consideration. Choose CSA-approved products and consider performance standards, comfort, price, and aesthetics.

Safety eyewear needs to perform and protect in hazardous conditions. Manufacturers offer a range of coatings, tints, and lens types to meet the performance and comfort requirements of any work environment. Whatever safety eyewear you choose, it needs to be able to perform under often harsh conditions. Employees are also more likely to comply with safety protocols when the safety eyewear is comfortable across the range of temperature and humidity fluctuations and work activities. Price is also important, but it’s not just about the initial purchase price. The cost of safety eyewear must be considered over the service life of the safety eyewear, taking into account durability and longevity.

Don’t forget that professional help is available. Eyesafe™️ optometrists and their clinics can help employees select the proper safety eyewear, and ensure a “proper fit” to maximize efficacy and comfort.


Educating employees

Employee involvement is a crucial part of your eye protection program. Provide comprehensive education on eye safety and get employees involved in developing the inventory of tasks that may create an eye injury hazard. Their input will increase buy-in and ensure a smooth implementation process. Dialogue on the program needs to happen formally and informally throughout the year.

  • Introduce the topic to new employees during their onboarding.
  • Make eye safety a topic at the company’s annual general meeting.
  • Use eye safety as the topic for a safety moment at the start of a team meeting. Eyesafe™ can help with these safety presentations.
  • Create a Toolbox Talk and share it with all your work teams so that everyone gets another opportunity to participate in a discussion about eye safety. These are available through the Eyesafe™.


Eye safety programming needs regular reinforcement. It should begin at new hire orientation and continue during planned training, educational programming, and other scheduled safety communication opportunities. Visible involvement from management will also help build program momentum. In all your discussions about safety eyewear, discuss costs – time, money, and vision – associated with workplace eye injuries.  Framing discussions around these costs helps employees understand the significance of safety eyewear and underscores the urgency of prioritizing eye safety as a shared responsibility.


Glyn Jones is a partner at EHS Partnerships Ltd. in Calgary. He is a consulting occupational health and safety professional with 35 years of experience. He is a regular safety conference speaker in Canada, and he provides program design and instructional support to the University of New Brunswick’s OHS certificate and diploma programs.

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