Objective To identify and describe the array of factors that influence a workers’ decision to wear personal protective eyewear (PPE) and the barriers that exist in preventing their use. Design, setting and participants A series of focus groups enrolled workers and supervisors primarily from manufacturing, construction, or service/retail industries that had potential exposure to eye injury hazards in their job tasks. Focus group sessions were facilitated to collect qualitative and quantitative data in two categories, “sought information” and “emergent themes”, related to the factors influencing use of PPE. Results We conducted a series of 7 groups with 51 participants, 36 (71%) males and 15 (29%) females ranging in age from 19 to 64 years old, from a variety of occupations including construction (24%), production (22%), installation, repair and maintenance (14%), and healthcare (10%). Most were highly experienced in their occupation (>10 years); males (86%) and females (53%), and had received some safety training in the past (82%). The majority of workers in this study were required to wear PPE on their worksite (78%), however only 55% had a dedicated safety officer. A conceptual model that summarizes the “sought information” and “emergent themes” is presented that depicts the decision making process for the factors influencing use of PPE and consists of three primary branches; perceptions of hazards and risks, “barriers” to PPE usage, and enforcement and reinforcement. Lack of comfort/fit, and fogging and scratching of the eyewear were suggested as the most important barriers to PPE usage. Younger age and lack of safety training were other important factors affecting use of PPE. Conclusions Several potentially modifiable factors identified would lead to an increase in workers’ PPE use and encourage supervisors to provide ongoing positive feedback on the continuous use of PPE by workers at risk for an eye injury.