OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

August 7, 1984

Mr. John Chopek, Jr.
President
Local #7
American Flint Glass Workers Union
303 South 5th Street
Millville, New Jersey 08332

Dear Mr. Chopek:

This is in response to your letter of June 2, 1984, in which you request from us a ruling concerning the use of a tint in safety glasses.

The National Office concurs with us in that rose tint lenses in safety glasses are allowed if they meet the ANSI Standard, Z87.1-1968's requirements. The OSHA Standard [29 CFR 1910.133(b)(2)] adopts by reference this ANSI Standard. Section 6.3.1(2)(a) of this Standard specifies absorptive lenses (shades 1.7 through 3.0) being "impact-resisting providing protection against flying objects and glare" as one of the four basic types of "lenses intended for use in protectors covered by this code."

The absorptive lenses shall meet, also, the radiant-energy-transmittance requirements specified on Section 6.3.3.3.1 of this ANSI standard.

We cannot provide you with a copy of the referenced ANSI Standard because it is a copyright material. If you are interested in obtaining a copy, you should contact ANSI at:

American National Standard Institute
1430 Broadway
New York, New York 10018

 

 

If you have any questions on this matter, please contact [ANSI at (212) 642-4900]. You should contact, also, the local OSHA Area Office which is located at [701 Route 73 South, Suite 120, Marlton, New Jersey 08053, telephone (856) 757-5181].

Sincerely,


Cathie M. Mannion
Assistant Regional Administrator
for Technical Support

 

 



June 2, 1984

U.S. Dept. of Labor
OSHA
Administration Technical Support
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

ATTN. Cathie Mannion Asst. Regional Administrator

Dear Ms. Mannion:

This letter is written to you for a ruling concerning the use of a tint in safety glasses in the workplace.

Our occupation is that of Mold-Makers, employed at the Wheaton Glass Company in Millville, N.J. Our job is the making of Cast Iron and various other metal molds and related equipment used in the making of glass bottles for the pharmacutical, cosmetic and specialty industry. An example of our bottles would be the Avon fancy container and the Wheaton commemoration bottles depicting past Presidents and historic events.

The reason for the above explanation is to try and explain the detail that must be maintained in the molds we make, most of which is done by hand with hammer and chisel.

Management has in the past provided us with a tint in our safety glasses, when prescribed by a doctor, of no darker than a #2 rose tint.

Now management has told us they no longer will provide a tint of any kind because it is against OSHA regulations.

We know of no OSHA regulation prohibiting a #2 rose tint in safety glasses, and are writing you for a ruling concerning the use of a tint in safety glasses, when prescribed by a doctor of no greater than a #2 rose tint. All of our work is done inside, under fluorescent and incandescent lights (fluorescent overhead and incandescent bench lights of 100 watts). Our people have complained of headaches from reflections off of the metal molds, but have found relief with the #2 rose tinted glasses they were previously issued, which management now says are illegal!

A written ruling from you will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,


John Chopek, Jr.
President, Local #7
American Flint Glass Workers Union
303 South 5th St.
Millville, NJ 08332

 

 



July 27, 1984

 

 

 

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: GERALD P. REIDY
Regional Administrator
 
FROM: JOHN B. MILES, JR.
Director
Directorate of Field Operations
 
SUBJECT: Rose Tint Lenses in Safety Glasses
 

 


As you pointed out in your June 22, 1984, memorandum on this subject, 29 CFR [1910.133(b)(2)] adopts by reference the ANSI Z87.1-1968 standard. Section 6.3.1(2)(a) of this standard specifies absorptive lenses (shades 1.7 through 3.0) being "impact-resisting, providing protection against flying objects and glare" as one of the four basic types of "lenses intended for use in protectors covered by this code."

Section 6.3.1(2)(a) would apply to protection of the American Flint Glass Workers making metal molds by hand with hammer and chisel if there are flying metal particles and glare. A doctor need not prescribe the tinted lenses, but they must meet the transmittance requirements of Section 6.3.3.3.1 for absorptive lenses, or be special purpose lenses suited for the task.

The rose tint lenses in safety glasses are allowed if they meet the aforementioned requirements.

 

 

 

 



June 22, 1984

 

 

 

 

Subject: Rose Tint Lenses in Safety Glasses
 
To: Donald A. Shay, Director
Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance
 
Thru: John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Field Operations
 

 


The American Flint Glass Workers Union, AFL-CIO has requested from us, in the attached letter, a ruling concerning the use of a tint in safety glasses when prescribed by a physician.

The current OSHA requirements for protective eye and face equipment 29 CFR 1910.133 were adopted by reference from the ANSI standard, Z87.1-1968-Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection. The use of tinted lenses is not addressed in this ANSI standard. However, article 6.3.1 of the new Z87.1-1979 ANSI standard addresses this matter.

The ANSI Z87.1-1979 states on paragraph 6.3.1 (2)(c) the following:

 

 

"Tinted lenses should not be worn indoors unless called for by the nature of particular occupations, or when prescribed for individuals by opthalmic specialists"

 

 

We know OSHA's position on the use of variable-tinted lenses, since interpretations on this matter have been made in the past (see attached letters). However, an official determination about the use of tinted lenses in safety glasses has not been made (see the attached letter from Mr. Dennis J. Ruth dated May 2, 1983).

It is our feeling that OSHA would allow the use of absorptive lenses conforming to the requirements for shades 1.7 through 3.0 as specified on paragraph 6.3.1(2)(b) of the above referenced new ANSI standard, when prescribed by opthalmic specialists or when necessary due to working conditions.

On the basis of the information which the Union provided to us, it appears that there is a condition of direct or reflected brightness (glare) in this workplace which apparently is affecting the employees.

Although OSHA does not require an employer to provide safety glasses to employees free of charge, many employers do give such personal protective equipment to their workers. The provision of safety glasses free of cost to the employees is a matter of employment conditions existing between the employer and the employees subject to labor-management contractual agreement.

It is possible that the referenced employer, Wheaton Glass Company in Millville, New Jersey is not willing to continue to pay the extra cost associated with the tinted lenses. If this is the case, then the company could agree to reimburse the employee for the cost of standard safety glass lenses and frames and any additional expense of tinted lenses would become the responsibility of the employee.


(This document was edited on 8/9/2002 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.)

We would appreciate your advice about the current OSHA position on the use of tinted lenses in safety glasses, so we can If you have any questions on this request, please contact Ms. Cathie M. Mannion, Assistant Regional Administrator for Technical Support.


Gerald P. Reidy
Regional Administrator

Attachments (2)

 

 



March 17, 1983

 

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: BYRON R. CHADWICK
Regional Administrator
 
THRU: JOHN B. MILES, JR.
Director
Office of Field Coordination
 
FROM: BRUCE HILLENBRAND
Acting Director, Federal Compliance and State Programs
 
SUBJECT: Variable-Tint Lenses in Safety Eye Wear As Referenced in ANSI Z87.1-1979
 

 


In regards to your reference (a) above in your February 14, 1983 memorandum, our position is as follows:

Article 6.3.3.3.4 of the new Z87.1-1979 ANSI standard, specifically addresses the variable-tint plano (noncorrective) and corrective-protective (Rx) phototropic (photochromic) lenses forbidding their use indoors entirely and allowing their use outdoors in the absence of hazardous ultraviolet or infrared radiation. In light of this, the use of the variable-tint lenses, which is not specifically addressed in the reference ANSI standard, Z87.1-1968, currently being enforced, may be considered a de minimis violation without a citation by the compliance officer in view of the outdoors allowance of the 1979 edition of this reference standard. This is permissible by OSHA Instruction CPL 2.11A, De Minimis Violations, which discusses OSHA's possible acceptance of provisions in a new edition of a reference consensus standard on a de minimis violation basis.

Moreover, even indoor use of variable-tint lenses, under certain lighting conditions, which do not change substantially and in which the employees work constantly, may be considered a de minimis violation in the judgment of the compliance officer, particularly if glare or bright lights is a problem.

However, these allowances could lead to a constant surveillance problem for supervision. Employees who are allowed to wear these glasses outside in natural light or sunlight may walk into or, if they are fork lift drivers, drive into a plant which may be quite a bit darker, with the result of walking or driving "in the dark" until their lenses change to a lighter shade. During the interim time, the employees could be exposed to workplace hazards. OSHA would not allow the use of the variable-tint lenses in this situation, which causes temporary vision impairment in going from a bright light environment to a dim one.

OSHA has no objection to the Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) purchasing and wearing the variable-tint lenses in the normal conduct of inspection activity provided that he is restricted in wearing them in the same way as OSHA imposes the requirement upon the employer. In addition, the CSHO must abide by the employer's requirements beyond what OSHA may require.

This correspondence and reply on the variable-tint lenses is being sent to each of our Regional Administrators.

A separate memorandum is being prepared on the subject matter of your reference (b).

 

 

 

 



February 14, 1983

 

 

 

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: JOHN B. MILES, JR., Director
Office of Field Coordination
 
FROM: BYRON R. CHADWICK
Regional Administrator - Region VIII
 
REFERENCE: (a) Variable Tint Lenses in Safety Eye Wear As
Referenced in ANSI Z87.1-1979

(b) Point of Operation Guarding on Job Shop Operations
Utilizing Press Brakes
 

 


a) The question of whether OSHA standards permit the use of variable-tint safety glasses has been raised again.

Paragraph 6.3.3.3.4 of ANSI Z87.1-1979, states in part:

 

 

"Variable-tint plano (non-corrective) and corrective-protective (RX) phototropic (photochromic) lenses are not allowed for indoor application and are only allowable for outdoor tasks which do not involve hazardous ultraviolet or infrared radiation, or both, providing the lens requirements of this standard are met with respect to refractive power, definition, thickness, and impact. All phototropic lenses shall be distinctly and permanently marked with the symbol "V" as well as the manufacturer's monogram."

 

 

My understanding is that it is OSHA's position that variable-tint lenses are to be allowed inside buildings in the industrial environment so long as the worker is not exposed to sudden and dramatic changes in lighting conditions of which the worse is going from conditions of high brightness to darkness.

During this above mentioned situation, there is the strong likelihood that a temporary condition of impaired vision may occur.

Also, please clarify OSHA's position if it is permissible for CSHO's to purchase and wear variable-tint plano (non-corrective) and/or corrective-protective (RX) phototropic (photochromic) lenses in the normal conduct of inspection activity. Your response could be incorporated into the "OSHA Directives" program so that all ten Regions can interpret this policy uniformly.

b) The enforcement of point of operation guarding on press brakes in job shop applications needs clarification. Due to the nature of the stock, both in physical qualities and size differentials, coupled with many varied processes which are involved in this type of work, it is not always feasible nor practical to strictly enforce point of operation guarding. Please advise if this enforcement policy is to be judgmental and that not in all situations must press brakes be guarded. In the production mode, it is reasonably understandable and necessary. In the job shop situation where the operator inches the die down to just touch the metal stock and then initiates the forming process, the guarding isn't practical or necessary. I am aware of STD 1-12.12 regarding this issue. However, it would help ensure uniform enforcement of this issue by giving specific examples of what is intended by paragraph (4)(c) of this OSHA Program Directive.

 

 



May 25, 1983

Mr. Dennis J. Ruth
Safety and Health Supervisor
Rollins Environmental Services (NJ) Inc.
Post Office Box 221
Bridgeport, New Jersey 08014

Dear Mr. Ruth:

This is in response to your letter of April 28, 1983, to Mr. John B. Miles, Jr., concerning the OSHA policy on the use of tinted or colored lens safety glasses in the workplace. Your letter to Mr. Miles was forwarded to this office for reply.

Your concern appears to be in the use of the variable-tinted (photogray) lens.

The use of variable-tint lenses is not addressed specifically by the applicable ANSI standard, Z87.1-1968, which OSHA adopted by reference and which is currently being enforced. However, Article 6.3.3.3.4 of the new Z87.1-1979 ANSI standard addresses the variable-tint plano (noncorrective) and corrective-protective (Rx) phototropic (photochromic) lenses, forbidding their use indoors entirely and allowing their use outdoors in the absence of hazardous ultraviolet or infrared radiation. In light of this, the outdoor use of the variable-tint lenses may be considered a de minimis violation without a citation by the compliance officer, in view of the outdoors allowance of the 1979 edition of the reference standard. This is permissible by OSHA Instruction CPL 2.11A, De Minimis Violations (copy enclosed), which discusses OSHA's possible acceptance of provisions in a new edition of a reference consensus standard on a de minimis violation basis.

Moreover, even indoor use of variable-tint lenses, under certain lighting conditions, which do not change substantially cover an exhaustive set of situations, activities, worksites, etc., since such categories could approach infinity in number.

Based on the information presented above, it would appear that a variance application would not be appropriate in the situation you described.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,


Bruce Hillenbrad
Acting Director, Federal Compliance
and State Programs

Enclosure

 

 



April 28, 1983

Mr. John B. Miles, Jr.
Director of Office and
Field Coordination
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and
Health Administration
Washington, D.C. 20210

Re: OSHA Policy - Safety Glasses Ref: American National Standard Z87.1-1979

Dear Mr. Miles:

As suggested by the Region II - Camden, New Jersey Office of OSHA concerning subject, Rollins Environmental Services (NJ) Inc. requests interpretation of the OSHA policy pertaining to the use of tinted or colored lens safety glasses in the work place. The work place, as defined in our situation, encompasses indoor/outdoor - daylight/night work assignments in a hazardous waste incinerator setting. Our present policy which we believe is necessary in order to comply with the pertinent OSHA rules (29 CFR 1910.133) is to provide clear lens safety glasses for routine use. In addition, for those employees who consider themselves to have "light-sensitive" eyes, the company provides a flip-down colored lens (grade 1 or light tint) attachment type. For welding or other special tasks, we provide the industry standard protection. This procedure allows the company to easily standardize its eye protection program thereby enhancing eyeglass protection enforcement and ultimately the overall safety program. Recently, however, we have had a few instances where an employee's personal physician or ophthamologist has prescribed photogray or tinted lens glasses for use at work.

We have resisted providing these type safety glasses for the reasons stated above, however, our aim is to avoid unnecessary employee relations problems, if possible, so long as compliance with the OSHA standards are met (perhaps a variance covering same could be arranged).

Thank you for your assistance in resolving this matter. We look forward to hearing from your (a written response, please) at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,


Dennis J. Ruth
Safety and Health Supervisor

[Corrected 05/28/2004]