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Page last reviewed: 07/01/2008
  • Eye and Face Protection. OSHA eTool. Provides a comprehensive hazard assessment, information about selecting protective devices for the workplace, as well as OSHA requirements.
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Eye and Face Protection

Thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection. Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.

OSHA requires employers to ensure the safety of all employees in the work environment. Eye and face protection must be provided whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants and hazards.

Eye and face protection is addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, longshoring, and the construction industry.


This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards), and national consensus standards related to eye and face protection.


Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)

Longshoring (29 CFR 1918)

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

Federal Registers

  • Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment. Proposed Rules 64:15401-15441, (1999, March 31). Implements the intent of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, makes clear who is to pay for what kind of personal protective equipment (PPE), and improves protection to employees who must wear PPE.

  • Search all available Federal Registers.

Standard Interpretations

National Consensus

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

  • Z87.1-2003, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices. Sets forth criteria related to the description, general requirements, testing, marking, selection, care, and use of protectors to minimize or prevent injuries, from such hazards as impact, non-ionizing radiation, and chemical type injuries, in occupational and educational environments including, but not limited to, machinery operations, material welding and cutting, chemical handling, and assembly operations.
    • Z87.1-1989, Practice for Occupational/Educational Eye and Face Protection. American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), Secretariat for ANSI Standard (Revised 1998). Recognizes the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study that revealed the need for angular protection in addition to frontal protection.

  • Z358.1-1998, Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment. Provides requirements for eyewash facilities, including location and flow specifications.

Hazards and Solutions

Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environments making them more vulnerable to injury. Personal protective equipment (PPE) for the eyes and face is designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to workers when engineering or administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels. The following references aid in recognizing and evaluating eye and face hazards and provides possible solutions for these hazards.

  • Eye and Face Protection. OSHA eTool. Provides a comprehensive hazard assessment, information about selecting protective devices for the workplace, as well as OSHA requirements.
    • Selecting PPE for the Workplace. Provides a hazard assessment to determine the risk of exposure to eye and face hazards, including those which may be encountered in an emergency, and offers controls.
    • OSHA Requirements. Focuses on PPE requirements, training and qualification, and the ability to anticipate and avoid injury from job-related hazards.

  • Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA Publication 3151-12R, (2003). Also available as a 629 KB PDF, 46 pages. Discusses the types of equipment most commonly used to protect the head, torso, arms, hands, and feet. Additional topics include requirements, hazard assessment, selection, and employee training.

  • Eye Safety. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic.
  • Current Intelligence Bulletin 59: Contact Lens Use in a Chemical Environment. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-139, (2005, June). Provides safety guidelines for contact lens wearers working in chemical environments.

  • Eye Washes & Deluge Showers. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Discusses the need to install and maintain an emergency eye wash unit wherever a chemical or physical hazard may pose a serious risk of injury to someone's eye.

  • Eye Protection for Farmers. National Ag Safety Database (NASD) and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, (2006, September). Also available as a 44 KB PDF, 2 pages. Provides an overview of causes of injury, eye protection, and basic first aid.

  • Toolbox Talk: Eye Safety. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (elcosh). Discusses how and why eye injuries occur in the workplace and what to do to prevent them.

  • How Much Eye Protection Is Enough? Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (elcosh), (2002, February). Provides help in determining when more eye protection is needed.

  • Eye Safety at Work. Prevent Blindness America. Provides questions and answers to commonly asked questions about workplace eye safety.

  • Emergency Eyewash Equipment [175 KB PDF, 2 pages]. Manitoba Labour and Immigration, Workplace Safety and Health Division Safe Work Bulletin No. 104, (2002, December). Includes a summary of the ANSI requirements.

  • Eye Injury Prevention Month. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Federal Occupational Health (FOH).

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages


Ensuring worker safety includes providing adequate training for all workers who require eye and face protection. When employees are trained to work safely, they should be able to anticipate and avoid injury from job-related hazards. Examples of available training resources are provided below.

Other Resources

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