Eye and Face Protection eTool
Eye and Face Protection Home Frequently Asked Questions
- What is eye and face protection?
- When is the use of eye and face protection required?
- Can any eye and face protection be used?
- Who certifies PPE?
- How can certified eye and face protection be recognized?
- When must an employer provide eye and face protection for employees?
- Is training required before eye and face protection is used?
- Why is a formal eye and face program needed?
- Who is in charge of the protection program?
- What do employees need to know about the eye and face protection program?
- What can be done if an employee has a very small face and has trouble being fit tested for a PPE?
- If employees wear eyeglasses with prescription lenses, are these considered eye protection?
- Can employees wear glasses while wearing eye and face protection?
- What maintenance and care is required for eye and face protection?
- My employees work in shifts. Could I provide one pair of protective eyewear for each position instead of each employee?
- What is the proper way to store protective devices that are used routinely?
- What are the employer's obligations when eye and face protection is not required but employees wear eye and face protection of their own accord?
- Can face shields protect employees instead of safety goggles or spectacles?
- How dark do lenses on welding helmets and safety goggles need to be?
- How do I protect employees from exposure to laser beams?
Q: What is eye and face protection?
A: Eye and face protection is protective equipment such as spectacles, goggles, face shields, or welding shields that are designed to protect the wearer against a variety of hazards.
Q: When is the use of eye and face protection required?
A: OSHA's eye and face protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.133, requires the use of eye and face protection when workers are exposed to eye or face hazards such as flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.
Q: Can any eye and face protection be used?
A: No, eye and face protection must be selected on the basis of hazards to which the worker is exposed (i.e., impact, penetration, compression, chemical, heat, harmful dust, light radiation, or combination).
Q: Who certifies PPE?
A: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Q: How can certified eye and face protection be recognized?
A: Certified protective devices shall be marked permanently and legibly by the manufacturer, so that it can be easily identified. The mark shall not interfere with wearer's vision.
Q: When must an employer provide eye and face protection for employees?
A: Employers must provide eye protection for employees whenever they are exposed to potential eye injuries during their work if work practice or engineering controls do not eliminate the risk of injury.
Q: Is training required before eye and face protection is used?
A: Yes, training must be provided to employees who are required to use eye and face protection. The training must be comprehensive, understandable, and recur annually, and more often if necessary. This training should include at a minimum:
- 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.
- General requirements of OSHA's eye and face protection standard. [29 CFR 1910.133]
Q: Why is a formal eye and face protection program needed?
A: The eye and face protection program increases the chances of using equipment correctly. Eye and face Protection will only protect if it is used correctly. Also, OSHA requires a number of written elements for all PPE protection programs.
Q: Who is in charge of the protection program?
A: The program must be administered by a trained program administrator who is qualified and knowledgeable in eye and face protection to run all aspects of the program.
Q: What do employees need to know about the eye and face protection program?
A: Employers must 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.
Q: What can be done if an employee has a very small face and has trouble being fit tested for a PPE?
A: Manufacturers make several different sizes. Eye and face protection may also vary in size from manufacturer to manufacturer. Users may be able to get a better fit by trying eye and face protection made by another manufacturer. Employers must help employees find suitable eye and face protection.
Q: If employees wear eyeglasses with prescription lenses, are these considered eye protection?
A: No. Eyeglasses designed for ordinary wear do not provide the level of protection necessary to protect against workplace hazards.
Q: Can employees wear glasses while wearing eye and face protection?
A: Yes, special care must 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.
Q: What maintenance and care is required for eye and face protection?
A: It is important that all eye and face protection be kept clean and properly maintained. Cleaning is particularly important where dirty or fogged lenses could impair vision.
Eye and face protection should be inspected, cleaned, and maintained at regular intervals so that equipment provides the requisite protection. It is also important to ensure that contaminated equipment which cannot be decontaminated is disposed of in a manner that protects employees from exposure to hazards.
Q: My employees work in shifts. Could I provide one pair of protective eyewear for each position instead of each employee?
A: Yes. If you do this, however, you must disinfect shared protective eyewear after each use. If the goggles or spectacles do not have to be individually designed to incorporate an employee's corrective lenses and you disinfect the eyewear between uses by different employees, more that one employee may use the same set of protective eyewear.
Q: What is the proper way to store protective devices that are used routinely?
A: Goggles should be kept in a case when not in use. Spectacles, in particular, should be given the same care as one's own glasses, since the frame, nose pads, and temples can be damaged by rough usage.
After disinfecting eyewear, the dry parts or items should be placed in a clean, dust-proof container, such as a box, bag, or plastic envelope, to protect them until reissue.
Q: What are the employer's obligations when eye and face protection is not required but employees wear eye and face protection of their own accord?
A: The employer must implement those elements of the written eye and face protection program necessary to ensure that any employee using eye and face protection voluntarily is medically able to use that PPE, and that the eye and face protection is cleaned, stored, and maintained so its use does not present a health hazard to the user. Also, employers must provide the voluntary eye and face protection users with the information contained in OSHA's Eye and Face Protection Standard. [29 CFR 1910.133]
Employers are not required to include in a written eye and face protection program those employees whose only use of eye and face protection involves the voluntary use of PPE.
Q: Can face shields protect employees instead of safety goggles or spectacles?
A: Face shields alone do not protect employees from impact hazards. Face shields may be used in combination with safety goggles or spectacles to protect against impact.
Q: How dark do lenses on welding helmets and safety goggles need to be?
A: The intensity of light or radiant energy produced by welding, cutting, or brazing operations varies according to a number of factors including the task producing the light, the electrode size, and the arc current. To protect employees who are exposed to intense radiant energy, begin be selecting a shade too dark to see the welding zone. Then try lighter shades until you find one that allows a sufficient view of the welding zone without going below the minimum protective shade.
Q: How do I protect employees from exposure to laser beams?
A: You must provide safety goggles specifically designed to protect the employees' eyes from the specific intensity of light produced by the laser. The level of protection will vary according the level of radiation emitted by the laser. If your employees are exposed to laser beams, you must determine the maximum power density, or intensity, that the lasers can produce. Based on this knowledge, you must select lenses that will protect against this maximum intensity. Employers with lasers emitting radiation between two measures of power density (or light blocking capability) must provide lenses that offer protection against the higher of the two intensities.
Q: How can I be sure that laser safety goggles provide enough protection?
A: Every pair of safety goggles intended for use with laser beams must bear a label with the following information:
- The laser wavelengths for which they are intended to be used.
- The optical density of those wavelengths.
- The visible light transmission.