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Eye and Face Protection eTool

Selecting PPE for the Workplace Impact

Impact Hazards

The majority of impact injuries result from flying or falling objects, or sparks striking the eye. Most of these objects are smaller than a pin head and can cause serious injury such as punctures, abrasions, and contusions.

While working in a hazardous area where the worker is exposed to flying objects, fragments, and particles, primary protective devices such as safety spectacles with side shields or goggles must be worn. Secondary protective devices such as face shields are required in conjunction with primary protective devices during severe exposure to impact hazards.

Personal protective equipment devices for impact hazards:

  • Safety Spectacles: Primary protectors intended to shield the eyes from a variety of impact hazards.
  • Safety Goggles: Primary protectors intended to shield the eyes against flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles.
  • Face Shields: Secondary protectors intended to protect the entire face against exposure to impact hazards.

Safety Spectacles

Worker wearing safety spectacles

Safety spectacles are intended to shield the wearer's eyes from impact hazards such as flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles. Workers are required to use eye safety spectacles with side shields when there is a hazard from flying objects. Non-side shield spectacles are not acceptable eye protection for impact hazards. [29 CFR 1910.133(a)(2) and 29 CFR 1915.153(a)(2)]

The frames of safety spectacles are constructed of metal and/or plastic and can be fitted with either corrective or plano impact-resistant lenses. Side shields may be incorporated into the frames of safety spectacles when needed. Consider each component of safety spectacles when selecting the appropriate device for your workplace.

Figure 1. Plano Lenses

Figure 1. Plano Lenses

The lenses of safety spectacles are designed to resist moderate impact from flying objects and particles.

Plano Lenses:

  • Should be used by workers who do not require vision correction.
  • May be flat or curved.
  • Are available in clear, filtered, or tinted lenses.
  • May include removable lenses.

Prescription (Rx) Lenses:

Figure 2. Prescription Lenses

Figure 2. Prescription Lenses

  • Should be used by workers who require vision correction.
  • May be clear, filtered, or tinted.
  • May include removable lenses.
Figure 3. Spatula Temples

Figure 3. Spatula Temples

The safety spectacle frames must fit comfortably and correctly to offer the necessary protection.

Spatula Temples:

  • Fit over the ear.
  • Can be either fixed or adjustable.
  • Are available in metal or plastic.

Cable Temples:

  • Fit around the ear.
  • Can be either fixed or adjustable.
  • Are available in metal or plastic.
Figure 4. Headband Temples

Figure 4. Headband Temples

Headband Temples:

  • Are easily adjustable for a secure fit.
  • Are useful for tasks requiring movement.
Figure 5. Adjustable Nose Pads

Figure 5. Adjustable Nose Pads

Bridges:

  • Are available in a variety of sizes.
  • Are available in fixed or adjustable types.
  • May have adjustable nose pads with pliable arms.
Figure 6. Flatfold Side Shields

Figure 6. Flatfold Side Shields

Side shields provide angular protection from impact hazards in addition to frontal protection.

Flatfold or Semi Side Shields:

  • May be part of or attached to the temple.
  • Are permanent or removable.
  • Are solid or ventilated.
  • Are tinted or clear.
Figure 7. Full (cup) Side Shields

Figure 7. Full (cup) Side Shields

Full (cup) Side Shields may be:

  • Removable
  • Wire screen
  • Tinted or clear

Safety Goggles

Goggle Protection

Safety goggles are intended to shield the wearer's eyes from impact hazards such as flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles. Goggles fit the face immediately surrounding the eyes and form a protective seal around the eyes. This prevents objects from entering under or around the goggles.

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 8. Clear, Removable Lenses

Figure 8. 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 9. Eye Cup Goggles

Figure 9. 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.

Cover Safety Goggles:

Figure 10. Cover Goggles

Figure 10. Cover 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 11. Direct-ventilated Goggles

Figure 11. 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 12. Indirect-ventilated Goggles

Figure 12. Indirect-ventilated Goggles

Indirect Ventilation:

  • Prevent fogging by allowing air circulation.
  • Protect against liquid or chemical splash entry.
Figure 13. Non-ventilated Goggles

Figure 13. 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

Face Shield Protection

Face shields are intended to protect the entire face or portions of it from impact hazards such as flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles. When worn alone, face shields do not protect employees from impact hazards. Use face shields in combination with safety spectacles or goggles, even in the absence of dust or potential splashes, for additional protection beyond that offered by spectacles or goggles alone.

Face shield windows are made with different transparent materials and in varying degrees or levels of thickness. These levels should correspond with specific tasks. Window and headgear devices are available in various combinations 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 14. Plastic Window

Figure 14. Plastic 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.

Plastic Windows:

  • Protect against light impact.
  • May include a glass insert.
  • Are available clear or filtered.
Figure 15. Wire-Screen Window

Figure 15. Wire-Screen Window

Wire-screen Windows:

  • May include a plastic/glass insert.
  • Protect against some moderate impact.
  • Are not recommended for use involving chemical or liquid hazards.
Figure 16. Adjustable Headgear

Figure 16. Adjustable Headgear

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

Adjustable Headgear:

  • Includes straps that allow the user to manipulate the size of the headgear to ensure a proper fit.
  • Allows face shields to be shared between employees.
Figure 17. Hard Hat with Face Shield

Figure 17. Hard Hat with Face Shield

Hard Hats with Face Shields:

  • May have a window shield mounted under the visor of the hat.
  • Include face shields that may be plastic, wire-screen, lift-front, or removable.
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