Personal Protective Equipment: Face and Eye Protection

Eye and face protective equipment is required by OSHA where there is a reasonable probability of preventing injury when such equipment is used. Employers must provide a type of protector suitable for the work to be performed and employees must use the protectors. These stipulations also apply to supervisors and management personnel, and should apply to visitors while they are in hazardous areas.

OSHA’s eye/face protection requirement applies to all employers who have employees exposed to flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.

Key Definitions.
ANSI Z87.1: An American National Standard that provides specification for testing, selecting, maintaining, and designing eye and face protection. OSHA accepts eye/face protection meeting one of three editions of ANSI Z87.1 (2010, 2003, and 1989-Rev1998).

Face shields: Secondary protectors intended to protect the entire face against exposure to impact hazards.

Safety spectacles: Primary protectors intended to shield the eyes from a variety of impact hazards.

Safety goggles: Primary protectors intended to shield the eyes against flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles.

Side shields: provide angular protection from impact hazards in addition to frontal protection.

Summary of OSHA’s Requirements for Employers.

  • Assess the workplace and determine if hazards that necessitate the use of eye and face protection are present or are likely to be present.
  • Select eye/face protection suitable to the hazard (e.g., impact, chemicals, dust) that meets one of three editions of ANSI Z87.1 (2010, 2003, and 1989-Rev1998).
  • Ensure employees use eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects. Detachable side protectors (e.g. clip-on or slide-on side shields) are acceptable.
  • Provide eye/face protection at no cost to the employee, with the exception of non-specialty prescription safety eyewear — provided it is allowed to be worn off the job.
  • Ensure employees who require corrective lenses either use goggles/spectacles over their regular glasses, or use safety eyewear incorporating the prescription.
  • Train employees on how to use, care for, and inspect their eye/face protection.

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