Eye Protection: Sunglasses Don’t Count

OSHA’s eye and face protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.133, requires the use of eye and face protection when workers are exposed to hazards such as flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Importantly, eyeglasses designed for ordinary wear do not provide the level of protection necessary to protect against workplace hazards.

Eye and face protection should also be tailored to the type of hazards to which a worker is exposed (i.e., impact, penetration, compression, chemical, heat, harmful dust, light radiation, or combination).

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certifies these protective devices, such as face shields, screens and googles and should be marked permanently and legibly by the manufacturer, so that it can be easily identified.

Proper use of eye and face protection may seem self-explanatory; however, employees should be instructed on the following minimum safety precautions:

  • Why the eye and face protection is necessary and how improper fit, use, or maintenance can compromise its protective effect.
  • Limitations and capabilities of the eye and face protection.
  • Effective use in emergency situations.
  • How to inspect, put on and remove.
  • Maintenance and storage.
  • Recognition of medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent effective use.

Employers are also required to establish and implement a written eye and face protection program with worksite-specific procedures and elements for required eye and face protective equipment use. The provisions of the program include procedures for selection, medical evaluation, fit testing, training, use and care of eye and face protection.

Manufacturers make several different sizes and may vary in size from manufacturer to manufacturer. Users may be able to get a better fit by trying eye and face protection made by different manufacturers. Employers are tasked with helping employees find suitable eye and face protection.

Special care should be taken when choosing eye protectors for employees who wear eyeglasses with corrective lenses such as the following:

  • Prescription spectacles, with side shields and protective lenses meeting the requirements of ANSI Z87.1, that also correct the individual employee’s vision.
  • Goggles that can fit comfortably over corrective eyeglasses without disturbing the alignment of the eyeglasses.
  • Goggles that incorporate corrective lenses mounted behind protective lenses.

At Diversified Safety Services, we offer a wide variety of OSHA compliant PPE & Supplies to protect your employees. Our certified safety consultants can help you find the high quality and affordable products for your specific construction project.



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Nina McGinley

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