Personal Protective Equipment - Eye Protection

The protection of your sight requires three extremes: extremely easy, extremely important, and too often, extremely forgotten. Once you have lost an eye or your ability to see, it’s too late. Protecting your eyes is the easiest thing to do, if you care about your eyes.

Four Basic Types of Hazards:

  • Small flying objects such as dust or other microscopic objects.
  • Particles resulting from chipping, grinding, sawing, brushing, hammering or using power tools (including nail guns). **These items move with the speed of a bullet and can permanently damage your eyes**
  • Liquids such as chemicals, tar, asphalt solvents, paints or masonry cleaning solutions.
  • Invisible light rays such as those generated by welding operations or by a laser beam.

Types of Eye Protection:

Safety EyewearSafety Glasses

  • Protection – Protection from flying particulates. Glasses must be stamped with Z87.1 to be considered safety glasses.  If safety glasses do not wrap around your face then side shields are required.
  • Use – Machining, wood-cutting (or lathe work), chemical work, cleaning slag from welds, etc.
  • Limitations - Protective eyewear, especially plastic, can become scratched and scuffed to the point where it interferes with vision; dispose of equipment when this is the case and get new safety eyewear.

GogglesSafety Eyewear

  • Protection – Goggles are necessary for any task which could result in an impact/splash to the eye that might not be prevented by safety glasses (even with side shields).
  • Use – Chemicals, hazards that safety glasses cannot mitigate (e.g. - removing ceiling tiles), etc.
  • Limitations – Goggles are typically not ventilated and may cause fogging. Goggles will not protect against "explosions" of liquids. "Explosion" of liquid should be taken to mean any eruption or violent splash of a quantity of liquid having enough force to penetrate the face/goggle interface or the breather vents. A full-face shield is the minimum requirement for work presenting the possibility of such explosions.

Face ShieldsSafety Eyewear

  • Protection – Full face (and possibly throat) protection from splashes and/or impacts.
  • Use – Some chemicals, explosion hazards, heavy grinding and spraying or splashing, and with large (>.5 gal.) quantities of dangerous liquids such as acids, bases, and many organic liquids.
  • Limitations – If the face shield is the type which has a wide opening on the sides or bottom, and when quantities of dangerous liquids are very large (>1 gal.), protective eyewear must be worn along with the face shield.

WeldingSafety Eyewear

  • Protection – Shades in the form of goggles, hand-held shields, or helmets are necessary when you are welding, brazing, or torch-cutting, or when such work is being performed near you.
  • Use – For hazard specific protection please contact Safety & Compliance.
  • Limitations – Filter lenses will only protect your eyes if you use the proper minimum shade and if you only view the radiant energy source through the filter.   Keep your eyes covered!

Remember this:

  • Identify the eye hazards before you start work.
  • Always wear the correct eye protection for the hazards present.
  • Safety glasses help protect against particles and dust. Look for “Z87+” on the frame or lenses as an indicator of impact protection.
  • Use vented goggles for caustic dust, such as cement dust and non-vented goggles for chemicals.
  • Use face shields with safety glasses or goggles for protection from flying objects or chemical splashes.
  • When welding, use a welding helmet or goggles with the correct lens shade for the job (shade 10-14 for arc welding; 4-8 for gas welding; and 3-6 for torch brazing). Welders’ helpers and bystanders also need UV protection.
  • Take care of your eye protection. Replace it when damaged.
  • If injured, do not rub your eyes. For dust, small particles or chemicals use the eye wash station. Rinse with clean water for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
  • For cuts, punctures, and objects in the eyes, seek medical attention; don’t wash out your eyes or try to remove objects yourself.

Discussion Topics:

  • What causes eye and face hazards in your work area?
  • What behaviors cause a person not to wear required PPE?
  • How do you get eye and face protection?
  • When is eye and face protection required?