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Eye Protection

- August 20, 2019 by Paula Tetrault (View all posts by Paula)

There is, without a doubt, a wide variety of personal equipment available to help protect your eyes. But how do you know which type is best for the job? Different types of hazards may require different types of protection, including goggles, face shields, or welding shields. Here are some things to consider before making the selection.

  • What are the exposures? (Flying materials, dust, chemical splashes, welding flash or slag, etc.) Are there multiple exposures?
  • From what direction might the employee be exposed? (From the front, side, all, etc.)
  • What material should the lenses be constructed of? (Clear, tinted, plastic, safety glass, etc.). Should the lenses be inter-changeable?

Other important safety tips to consider:

  • When using an abrasive grinder, you need to wear both a face shield and safety eyewear. Just using a face shield is not sufficient, and it is not an example of approved eye protection. A face shield is designed to protect the face from cuts and abrasions. The use of safety glasses or goggles is required to provide sufficient protection from the exposures at hand.
  • When an employee is exposed to a hazardous chemical environment, eye protection that provides a seal around the entire eye area is required.
  • Neither contact lenses nor glasses count as eye protection. They may improve vision, but do not provide protection in environments that contain flying objects, dust, vapors, mists, or airborne chemicals. Glasses that are ANSI rated are an exception to this rule.
  • Ensure eyewear is fitted correctly and maintained
  • Eye and face protection must be kept clean, especially when dirty or fogged goggles have the potential to impair vision

Regardless of choice, keep records, and have eye protection policies in writing. Eye safety policies should be clear. NIOSH suggests that the following key points be addressed and communicated to workers:

  • When to wear safety eye protection.
  • How and where workers can obtain protective eyewear.
  • How workers can get replacements.
  • What to do if eye protection is missing from a workstation.

An on-the-job eye injury can cause lasting and permanent vision damage, potentially disabling a worker for life. Even “minor” eye injuries can cause long-term vision problems and suffering, such as recurrent and painful corneal erosion from a simple scratch from sawdust, cement, or drywall. However, an estimated 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear, according to OSHA.

If you have some other ideas to share, please let us know.