OSHA eye protection standard
OSHA’s Eye and Face Protection standard was the tenth most-frequently cited agency standard in FY 2018.
Enforcement citations FY 2018: 1,384
Number of inspections: 1,378
Proposed penalties: $3,081,166
Most frequently cited industries
- Wholesale trade
Enforcement case study
In May 2018, OSHA proposed $191,071 in fines for roofing contractor Jose Barrientos in Derby, Kansas after inspectors found employees exposed to fall and other hazards on a Kansas residential jobsite. The agency issued the company citations for six serious, two willful and one other violation for the failure to provide sufficient fall, eye and face protection; not training employees about fall hazards, ladder usage and hazardous materials; and failing to keep work areas clear of debris.
OSHA said Barrientos has been cited for hazards five times in the past 10 years. The most recent status report indicates that the entire fine amount has been referred for debt collection.
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.
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.
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.
The employer must assess the workplace and determine if hazards that necessitate the use of eye and face protection are present or are likely to be present before assigning PPE to workers.
A hazard assessment should determine the risk of exposure to eye and face hazards, including those which may be encountered in an emergency. Employers should be aware of the possibility of multiple and simultaneous hazard exposures and be prepared to protect against the highest level of each hazard.
Common hazards include:
- Impact: flying objects such as large chips, fragments, particles, sand and dirt; common related tasks include chipping, grinding, machining, masonry work, woodworking, sawing, drilling, chiseling, powered fastening, riveting and sanding.
- Heat: anything emitting extreme heat; common related tasks include furnace operations, pouring, casting, hot dipping, and welding.
- Chemicals: Splash, fumes, vapors, and irritating mists; common related tasks include acid and chemical handling, degreasing, plating, and working with blood.
- Dust: harmful dust; common related tasks include woodworking, buffing, and general dusty conditions
- Optical radiation: radiant energy, glare, and intense light; common related tasks include welding, torch-cutting, brazing, soldering, and laser work.
Key eye and face protection standard takeaways
The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.
The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects. Detachable side protectors (e.g. clip-on or slide-on side shields) meeting the pertinent requirements of this section are acceptable.
The employer shall ensure that each affected employee who wears prescription lenses while engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.
The following minimum requirements must be met by all protective devices. Protectors shall:
- Provide adequate protection against the particular hazards for which they are designed.
- Be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed.
- Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions.
- Fit snugly and not unduly interfere with the movements of the wearer.
- Be durable.
- Be capable of being disinfected.
- Be easily cleanable.
- Be distinctly marked to facilitate identification only of the manufacturer.
Consideration should be given to comfort and fit. Poorly fitting eye and face protection will not offer the necessary protection. Fitting of goggles and safety spectacles should be done by someone skilled in the procedure. Prescription safety spectacles should be fitted only by qualified optical personnel. Devices with adjustable features should be fitted on an individual basis to provide a comfortable fit that maintains the device in the proper position. Eye protection from dust and chemical splash should form a protective seal when fitted properly. Welding helmets and face shields must be properly fitted to ensure that they will not fall off during work operations.
The following references offer guidelines on eye and face protection.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Eye Protection. National Ag Safety Database (NASD). Provides a list of video abstracts pertaining to eye protection that may be purchased through the website.
- Saddle Creek Corporation Provides Forklift and Golf Cart Drivers with Eye Protection. OSHA Success Stories. Discusses Saddle Creek Corporation's (a warehouse and logistics company) implementation of a formal eye protection program for its forklift and golf cart operators.
- Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA Fact Sheet (Publication 3603), (2012). Also available in Portuguese and Spanish. This is one in a series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards.
- Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA Publication 3151, (2004). This guide was created by OSHA and is intended to help employers in complying with OSHA’s general PPE requirements.
- Assessment the Need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (PDF). OSHA. A guide created by the OSHA Training Institute intended to help readers to conduct PPE assessments, includes assessment checklists.
- Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA. Includes a PPE PowerPoint presentation created by the OSHA Training Institute intended as an aid to authorized OSHA Outreach Instructors teaching PPE safety.
- PPE Workshop Lesson Plan. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Applicable for hazardous waste worker and emergency response training. Exercise for reinforcing and enhancing worker's knowledge of PPE.