November: 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.

Standards

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.

OSHA

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.

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.
  • Z358.1-1998, Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment.

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.

Acknowledgements to Occupational Safety & Health Administration:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/eyefaceprotection/index.html