Safety Tips Eye protection

Contact lenses at work

Reprints

In certain workplaces, wearing contact lenses can complicate eye safety, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

Some employers claim that dusts or chemicals can become trapped behind lenses, while others are concerned about chemical splashes and having to remove lenses in an emergency. CCOHS states that contact lenses are not intended to be used as personal protective equipment.

The center advises employers and workers to consider the following tips for wearing contact lenses at work:

Employers:

  • Ensure correct health and safety practices are followed.
  • Provide training on eye hazards – particularly those specific to contact lens use – and on the proper use of eyewash stations.
  • Clearly identify contact lens wearers. This information should be in the employee’s medical file, and first aid responders should know who wears contact lenses.
  • Have employees available who are knowledgeable in the removal of contact lenses in case of an emergency. In some cases, an ophthalmologist or optometrist may be required to remove contact lenses.
  • Provide access to a clean place for regular maintenance and periodic cleaning of PPE and contact lenses.

Workers:

  • Take special care to keep contact lenses clean, and always follow the advice of your eye care specialist.
  • Discuss your work environment and any possible hazards with your eye care specialist.
  • Make sure your co-workers and employer know you wear contact lenses.
  • Be on the lookout for changes to work processes and environmental conditions that may be a hazard for you.
  • Keep eyeglasses available for unexpected circumstances.
  • Wear PPE when required.
  • Learn about eye hazards and encourage your employer to do the same.