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Eye and Face Protection

1.0 Introduction

In the workplace, flying particles, chemical splashes, fumes and gases, and exposures to radiant energy are among the hazards that present serious injury potential to the eyes and face. Nearly 1,000 eye injuries occur on the job every day. Approximately 90% of these injuries could be prevented if proper eye protective devices were worn. Eye and face protective equipment is required where there is a reasonable probability of preventing injury when the equipment is used. The type of protection required depends on the hazards involved and may range from safety glasses to full face shields. Eyewear and face protection must provide adequate protection, be reasonably comfortable, durable, well fitted, and easily cleaned.

2.0 Procedures

1. General. Suitable eye or face protection must be used where there is a hazard from flying particles, molten metal, chemicals, gases, blood, or injurious radiation. Protective equipment for the eyes and face shall meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1. Eye protectors shall be distinctly marked to identify the manufacturer.

2. Tasks. Employees will wear proper eye protection when performing any task that may be harmful to the eye including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Using hand and power tools
  • Handling toxic or corrosive chemicals
  • Grinding or chipping
  • Using compressed air
  • Spraying paint or pesticides
  • Welding, cufting, brazing or soldering
  • Workign with molten metals and hot liquids
  • Working with lasers
  • Machine operations
  • Dusty environments
  • Handling blood or other potentially infectious materials
  • Looking inside of hot kilns

3. Visitors. Visitors entering areas where there is a potential for injury to the eyes must be provided with appropriate eye protection. Eye protection for visitors does not need to meet ANSI Z87.1 requirements.

4. Regular glasses. Ordinary prescription glasses do not provide adequate eye protection from hazards encountered in the workplace. They do not meet ANSI impact requirements or provide splash protection from the sides. Even shatterproof lenses are not appropriate for occupational use and frames are not strong enough to prevent the lens from being pushed through the frame. If eye hazards are present, workers who wear corrective lenses must wear prescription safety glasses that are ANSI approved or eye protection that fits over the lenses.

5. Contact lenses.  Contact lenses do not pose any additional hazards to the wearer and can be worn in most work environments. Contact lenses by themselves do not provide adequate protection and must be worn with approved safety glasses or goggles when performing tasks that may be harmful to the eye. 

6. Safety glasses. Safety glasses are ANSI approved and have frames and lenses that can resist impact from flying objects. They should be worn when protection is needed from flying fragments, objects, large chips, particles, and dirt. They can provide minimal protection from splashes and dust particles if equipped with side shields and a brow bar. These glasses can be purchased in "wraparound" styles that fit comfortably over most prescription glasses.

7. Goggles. Goggles fit tight to the face, surrounding the eye area to provide extra protection from splashes, impacts, and sparks. They must be worn when handling concentrated acids and bases, irritating fumes and mists, corrosive gases, and when there are severe hazards from flying particles. Goggles can be worn over ordinary spectacles. Goggles with direct vents offer protection from impact only. Indirect vents offer protection from impact, splashes, and dust while non-vented goggles protect from vapors and fumes.

8. Face Shield. Full face shields should be worn when maximum protection is needed for the face and neck from flying particles and chemical splashes. Face shields are not intended to provide full eye protection and must be worn over approved safety glasses or goggles.

9. Light Radiation. For protection from injurious light radiation employees must wear filter lenses that have a shade number appropriate for the work being performed.

10. Maintenance. It is essential that the lenses of eye protectors be kept clean. Daily inspection and cleaning with soap and water, or with a cleaning solution, are recommended. Deeply scratched or excessively pitted lenses and glasses with broken frames should be replaced. To avoid scratches, goggles and safety glasses should be kept in a clean, dust-proof container when not in use. Eye protectors that have been previously used should be disinfected before being issued to another person.

11. Signs. Signs indicating "eye protection required" should be prominently posted in areas that present hazards to the eye.