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Your Guide to OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, approximately 20,000 eye and face injuries occur every year in the workplace. In fact, the majority of these injuries occur from not wearing the proper eye and face protection.

Common activities where eye and face hazards may be present include:

  • Chipping
  • Grinding
  • Sanding
  • Sawing
  • Hand and Power Tool Use
  • Chemical Use
  • Welding

OSHA regulation states that employers should ensure each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection. Employees should also wear proper protection when exposed to the following:

  • Flying Particles
  • Molten Metal
  • Liquid Chemicals
  • Acids or Caustic liquids
  • Chemical Gases or Vapors
  • Injurious Light Radiation

It is the employer’s responsibility to purchase, make available, and enforce the use of eye and face protection. Whereas, it is the employee’s responsibility to use, care for, and maintain the eye and face protection provided to them.

When selecting the correct type of eye and face protection, the following questions should be addressed:
  • Does this protect against the workplace hazards I am exposed to? 
  • Does this fit properly and comfortably?
  • Does this allow for easy movement and visibility?
  • Is this durable and easy to keep clean?
  • Can I use this with other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? 

Additionally, eye and face protection must be American National Standard Institute (ANSI) approved. ANSI approves and issues the testing standards and ratings followed by OSHA.

While the most common eye and face ANSI designations are ANSI Z81 (Standard Impact Rating), and ANSI Z87+ (Higher Velocity Impact Rating), other designations may include:
  • D3 (Splash and Droplet), D4 (Dust), and D5 (Fine Dust)
  • R# (Infrared Light with Scale Number)
  • L# (Visible Light with Scale Number)
  • U# (Ultraviolet Radiation with Scale Number)
  • W (Welding Protection with Shade Scale Number)
  • V (Variable Tint) 
  • H (Smaller Head Size)
  • and S (Special Purpose Tint)

The ANSI designation should be marked on the eye and face protection. If there is no ANSI marking, it may not be considered OSHA approved.

To ensure effectiveness and durability, eye and face protection should be inspected after every use. If found defective, e.g. scratched, pitted, cracked, broken frames, frayed elastic bands, etc., they must be immediately repaired or replaced before the next use.

When eye and face hazards are present in the workplace, employees must wear the appropriate eye and face protection. With the proper selection and use, common injuries to the eyes and face will be prevented. For any additional information regarding compliant eye and face protection in the workplace, or to learn how we can help you ensure safety and health in the workplace, contact us.

Remember: Proactive Safety Beats Reactive Safety

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