Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

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Eye and Face Protection eTool

Selecting PPE for the Workplace Chemicals

Chemical Hazard

A large percentage of eye injuries are caused by direct contact with chemicals. These injuries often result from an inappropriate choice of personal protective equipment, that allows a chemical substance to enter from around or under protective eye equipment. Serious and irreversible damage can occur when chemical substances contact the eyes in the form of splash, mists, vapors, or fumes. When working with or around chemicals, it is important to know the location of emergency eyewash stations and how to access them with restricted vision.

When fitted and worn correctly, goggles protect your eyes from hazardous substances. A face shield may be required in areas where workers are exposed to severe chemical hazards.

Personal protective equipment devices for chemical hazards:

  • Safety Goggles: Primary protectors intended to shield the eyes against liquid or chemical splash, irritating mists, vapors, and fumes.
  • Face Shields: Secondary protectors intended to protect the entire face against exposure to chemical hazards.

Safety Goggles

goggle hazard

Safety goggles protect the eyes, eye sockets, and the facial area immediately surrounding the eyes from a variety of chemical hazards. Goggles form a protective seal around the eyes, preventing objects or liquids from entering under or around the goggles. This is especially important when working with or around liquids that may splash, spray, or mist.

Safety goggles may incorporate prescription lenses mounted behind protective lenses for individuals requiring vision correction. Take time to consider specific lens, frame, and ventilation options when selecting safety goggles.

Figure 1. Clear, Removable Lenses

Figure 1. Clear, Removable Lenses

Safety goggles lenses are designed and tested to resist moderate impact.

Clear lenses:

  • Are available with removable lenses.
  • May incorporate prescription lenses.
  • Do not provide special protection against optical radiation.
Figure 2. Eye Cup Goggles

Figure 2. Eye Cup Goggles

Safety goggle frames must be properly fitted to the worker's face to form a protective seal around the eyes. Poorly fitted goggles will not offer the necessary protection.

Eyecup Safety Goggles:

  • Cover the eye sockets completely.
  • Are available with direct or indirect ventilation.
  • May be rigid or flexible.
Figure 3. Cover Goggles

Figure 3. Cover Goggles

Cover Safety Goggles:

  • May be worn over corrective spectacles without disturbing the adjustment of the spectacles.
  • Are available in direct, indirect, or non-ventilated types.
  • May be rigid or flexible.
Figure 4. Direct-ventilated Goggles

Figure 4. Direct-ventilated Goggles

Ventilated goggles allow air circulation while providing protection against airborne particles, dust, liquids, or light.

Direct Ventilation:

  • Resist direct passage of large particles into the goggle.
  • Prevent fogging by allowing air circulation.
Figure 5. Indirect-ventilated Goggles

Figure 5. Indirect-ventilated Goggles

Indirect Ventilation:

  • Prevent fogging by allowing air circulation.
  • Protect against liquid or chemical splash entry.
Figure 6. Non-ventilated Goggles

Figure 6. Non-ventilated Goggles

Non-ventilated Goggles:

  • Do not allow the passage of air into the goggle.
  • Prevent splash entry.
  • May fog and require frequent lens cleaning.

Face Shields

Worker wearing safety spectacles

Heat-reflective and wire-screen face shields are intended to shield the entire face from a range of heat hazards. Specific hazards associated with heat include high temperatures, splash from molten metal, and hot sparks. Face shields are considered secondary protectors to be used in addition to primary protection such as safety spectacles or goggles.

Face shield windows are made with different transparent materials and in varying degrees or levels of thickness. The thickness of the face shield window should be matched to the task. Window and headgear devices come in various styles in order to enable the worker to select the appropriate equipment.

Face shield windows extend from the brow to below the chin and across the entire width of the face.

Figure 7. Wire-Screen Window

Figure 7. Wire-Screen Window

Windows are available in both Removable or Lift-front Designs:

  • Removable windows allow the replacement of damaged windows.
  • Lift-front windows may be raised, as needed, or left in the lowered position.

Wire-Screen Windows:

  • May include a plastic/glass insert.
  • Protect against moderate impact.
  • Not recommended for use involving chemical or liquid hazards.
Figure 8. Heat-Reflective Window

Figure 8. Heat-Reflective Window

Heat-reflective Windows:

  • Offer limited UV protection.
  • Protect against impact.
  • Protect against radiant heat.
Figure 9. Adjustable Headgear

Figure 9. Adjustable Headgear

Headgear supports the window shield and secures the device to the head.

Adjustable Headgear:

  • Include straps allow the user to manipulate the size of the headgear to ensure a proper fit.
  • Allows face shields to be shared between employees.
Figure 10. Hard Hat with Face Shield

Figure 10. Hard Hat with Face Shield

Hard Hats with Face Shields:

  • May be mounted under the visor of the hat.
  • May be wire-screen, heat reflective, lift-front, or removable.
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