OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 18 Personal Protective Equipment

Section 230 Contact lenses

The wearing of contact lenses at the workplace continues to be an issue. Opinions about the safety of contact lenses at the workplace vary widely. The critical point is that contact lenses are not intended to be used as protective devices. They are not a substitute for personal protective equipment. If eye and face protection is required for certain work operations, then all workers, including contact lens wearers, must wear the proper protective devices. The arguments against wearing contact lenses are that

(a) dusts or chemicals can be trapped behind the lens and cause irritation or damage to the cornea,
(b) gases and vapours can irritate the eyes and cause excessive watering, and
(c) chemical splashes may do more harm when contact lenses are worn. If lens removal is delayed, first aid treatment may not be as effective and, as a result, the eye’s exposure time to the chemical may be increased.

However, the opposite may be true as well. Contact lenses may prevent some substances from reaching the eye, minimizing or even preventing an injury. Both situations have been documented.

If wearing contact lenses poses a hazard to the worker’s eyes during work activities, this section requires the employer to advise the worker of the hazards and the alternatives available to contact lenses. Additional information about contact lens use at the workplace is described in the materials referenced below.

For more information
Guideline for the Use of Contact Lenses in Industry
Bulletin MG001