AROUND THE PROVINCES: Requirements & Limits on Wearing Contact Lenses

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You wouldn’t think that workers’ wearing contact lenses on the job would be an issue. After all, workers need to be able to see to work safely, right? But contact lenses aren’t safety eyewear. And although they may prevent some substances from reaching the eye, they’re not a substitute for appropriate PPE. So even if workers wear contacts, they may still need to wear proper eye and/or face protection for certain jobs. In addition, dusts or chemicals can get trapped behind contact lenses and cause irritation or damage to the cornea. (Note, however, that urban tales of contacts freezing or getting “welded” to workers’ eyes have been discredited.) As a result, the OHS regulations in many jurisdictions contain requirements for or limits on the wearing of contact or prescription lenses. Here’s a look at those requirements and limits.

KNOW THE LAWS: Requirements & Limits on Wearing Contact Lenses

FED The OHS laws don’t contain specific requirements or limits on wearing contact lenses.
AB OHS Code 2009:

An employer must ensure that, if wearing contact lenses poses a hazard to the worker’s eyes during work, the worker is advised of the hazards and the alternatives to wearing contact lenses [Sec. 230].

BC OHS Regs.:

1. Adequate precautions must be taken if a hazardous substance or condition may adversely affect a worker wearing contact lenses [Sec. 8.18].

2. The employer may permit the use of contact lenses by a worker who’s required to wear a full facepiece respirator if their use isn’t likely to adversely affect the worker’s health or safety [Sec. 8.38(2)].

MB Workplace Safety & Health Reg.:

For certainty, prescription lenses aren’t included as eye protectors under this section [Sec. 6.13(2)].

NB The OHS laws don’t contain specific requirements or limits on wearing contact lenses.
NL OHS Regs. 2012:

Adequate precautions must be taken where a hazardous substance or condition may adversely affect a worker wearing contact lenses [Sec. 77].

NS The OHS laws don’t contain specific requirements or limits on wearing contact lenses.
NT OHS Regs.:

A worker who’s required by these regulations to use an industrial eye protector or face protector shall not wear contact lenses [Sec. 97(4)].

NU OHS Regs.:

A worker who’s required by these regulations to use an industrial eye protector or face protector shall not wear contact lenses [Sec. 97(4)].

ON The OHS laws don’t contain specific requirements or limits on wearing contact lenses.
PE OHS Regs.:

1. When an employee intends to wear contact lenses at his place of employment, he must immediately notify the employer [Sec. 45.9].

2. The employer must ensure that no employee shall wear contact lenses where:

a. gases, vapours or other materials are present, which when absorbed by contact lenses may harm the eyes; or

b. dusts or other materials are present, which may harm the eyes or cause distraction that may expose the employee to other injury [Sec. 45.10].

3. An employee shall not wear contact lenses while welding [Sec. 45.11].

QC The OHS laws don’t contain specific requirements or limits on wearing contact lenses.
SK The OHS laws don’t contain specific requirements or limits on wearing contact lenses.
YT OHS Reg.:

1. The worker as described in Sec. 1.22 must ensure that the employer is notified when the worker wears contact lenses [Sec. 1.24(a)].

2. Such worker must ensure that adequate precautions are taken if a hazardous substance or condition may adversely affect the worker when wearing contact lenses [Sec. 1.24 (c)].

3. A worker may use contact lenses with positive pressure full facepiece respirators if the use of contact lenses won’t affect the worker’s health or safety [Sec. 1.31(3)].