Protecting your eyes is very important, as there are only two of them; with no spares. An injured eye can lead to loss of vision permanently. 90% of these injuries are preventable if using appropriate precautions and equipment.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that each day about 2,000 U.S workers acquire an eye injury that requires medical treatment.
High Velocity impact
Situations that can cause materials to fly towards your face at a high speed are a huge threat to vision. Jobs that require the use of machines such as saws and drills (ie. wood, metal, vinyl) to cut materials can result in small chips flying towards the eyes. At high speeds it is much easier for the object to penetrate the eyeball. These foreign bodies can get lodged onto the corneal surface resulting in pain, red eyes, blurred vision, and require immediate removal. Infection and scarring are a huge concern here. Prevention is critical. Use of protective eyewear is mandatory (shields should have markings with "V").
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health Safety describes the types of equipment that can and should be used when welding to protect the eyes and other body parts from injury. These helmets/shields protect your eyes and face from physical damage, and also from welding sparks, intense light, and chemical burns. Shields should have markings for ANSI/ISEA Z87.1
Cleaning solutions may contain harsh chemicals such as alcohol and bleach that are very corrosive to the eye tissues. Be careful when using these cleaners that they are not able to splash into the eyes. Wear a shield or goggles (should have markings with "C"). Make sure to read the MSDS sheet, and to know where the Eye Wash Station is located in your workplace. Do not wear contacts as fumes can be harmful and melt the plastic.
Since infectious disease can be spread through mucous membranes, it is vital to protect the eyes from direct contact of blood or mucous splashes, or touching the eyes with contaminated fingers. Health care workers, lab staff, janitors, animal handlers, and other workers are at risk of infectious disease from eye exposure.
Employee Rights and Workplace Safety in Canada
Government of Canada explains how EMPLOYEE RIGHTS include the right to know, to participate and also to refuse unsafe work. It is the employees responsibility to wear the protective eyewear as required by the employer.
EMPLOYERS are responsible in providing a safe working environment and to make sure staff are following safety protocols. Unsafe actions should be corrected and they must ensure that protective equipment is worn and available.