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A Workplace Guide to OSHA Eye Protection

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates nearly 20,000 workplace eye injuries occur yearly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says this costs businesses more than $300 million in lost productivity, medical treatment, and worker compensation!

Yet, when businesses follow OSHA eye protection guidelines, they avoid workplace injury and increase employee safety.

To learn more about these eye protection regulations, continue reading. This article will detail the eye-related OSHA regulations and teach you how to comply with them.

OSHA Eye Protection Regulations

A long list of OSHA regulations directs businesses on how to limit work hazards. Thus, employees from different industries can take OSHA training courses to remain compliant.

Within these regulations, employers can learn about employee eye protection and face protection. Using eye and face protection drastically reduces the number of accidents. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says protective eyewear can prevent more than 90% of serious eye injuries.

Examples of protective eyewear include:

  • Face shields
  • Goggles
  • Helmets
  • Safety glasses with side shields
  • Specially designed eyewear or face shields

However, OSHA regulations detail much more than the different types of eye protection. The standards below are the most common you need to know.

29 CFR 1910.132

Standard 1910.132 details general requirements for businesses regarding personal protective equipment (PPE).

First, employers must survey the workplace and identify hazards that require PPE. The four main hazards are:

  1. Chemicals
  2. Dust
  3. Heat
  4. Impact

If hazards are present, the employer must do the following:

  1. Select the proper type of PPE for the hazard
  2. Inform employees of PPE usage
  3. Provide training to employees on correct PPE usage
  4. Ensure PPE fits each employee properly
  5. Oversee the usage of PPE in the workplace

Employers typically provide employees with protective equipment for the following:

  • Extremities
  • Eyes
  • Face
  • Head

They may also need to provide these items should business tasks require them:

  • Protective clothing
  • Protective shields and barriers
  • Respiratory devices

The employer also must ensure the equipment is well-maintained and sanitary. Faulty PPE that causes injury could result in an employee's right to workers' compensation.

If employees provide their own PPE, the employer still holds some responsibility. They must ensure the equipment is adequate and sanitary.

29 CFR 1910.133

Standard 1910.133 explicitly discusses general requirements for eye and face protection. Employers are responsible for providing appropriate protection to employees handling the following:

  • Acids
  • Caustic liquids
  • Chemical gases
  • Flying particles
  • Light radiation
  • Liquid chemicals
  • Molten metal
  • Vapors

Further, eye protection must include side protection for those handling flying objects. Detachable side protectors are acceptable.

If an employee wears prescription lenses during work, the employer must provide eye protection that incorporates the lenses. Lenses and protective eyewear should not disturb each other.

Additionally, this regulation discusses minimum protective shade requirements to protect from light radiation. For example, heavy arc cutting requires a minimum protective shade of 11. Yet, torch soldering only requires a protective shade of two.

29 CFR 1926.102

If you work in construction, OSHA has more specific regulations for you to follow. This is because construction involves uniquely dangerous activities compared to other industries.

The most recent data from the BLS shows that in 2020, construction workers experienced the most eye injuries that caused missed work. They accounted for over 10% of all severe eye injuries, followed by material moving workers.

Although the guidelines in standard 1926.102 are the same as standard 1910.133, there are additional guidelines to follow. For example, it discusses protection against radiant energy and laser protection.

29 CFR 1915.153 and 1918.101

OSHA also details critical eye and face protection for the maritime industry. Standard 1915.153 discusses shipyard employment, and standard 1918.101 discusses long shoring.

Again, the guidelines in these standards mirror standard 1910.133 while mentioning slight variations to deal with circumstances unique to the maritime industry.

ANSI Z87.1 Standard

When reading through the different eye protection regulations, you'll often encounter the ANSI Z87.1 standard.

ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute. It creates uniform testing standards for various products. Z87.1 is the standard for OSHA eye and face protection devices. It classifies eye protection as impact or non-impact rated.

Employees should always use eyewear that is ANSI Z87.1 certified. Each pair of frames will have a marking to denote its compliance.

Further, more than a dozen other markings indicate various levels of compliance. For instance, Z87+ shows the glasses are a high-velocity impact rating. D5 implies protection from fine dust particles. V indicates photochromic lenses.

How to Comply With OSHA Eye Protection Standards

Compliance with OSHA standards is the responsibility of both the employer and employees. As mentioned, the employer usually must provide the equipment to employees. It also needs to train employees on correct usage and oversee its use. And the employer must ensure the equipment remains in good working condition.

However, the employee is responsible for following the regulations set out by their employer and OSHA guidelines. Failing to comply with workplace regulations will often shift blame for an equipment failure from the employer to the employee.

If an employer is not following OSHA regulations, employees should speak to their supervisor. Employee safety interests both parties, so it's best to have a discussion to resolve the issue.

While employee safety keeps worker satisfaction high, it also lessens the number of days employees are out from work. In return, this means businesses are more productive. They retain costs lost from employee injury.

Employers and employees should work together to remain compliant at all times by staying up to date on changing regulations.

Get OSHA Compliant With Online Learning

Data proves that the OSHA eye protection regulations protect employees from serious eye injuries daily. So whether you're a business owner whose employees need compliance training or a skilled employee looking to stay educated on regulatory compliance, consider an online course from Compliance Training Online.

Our extensive course catalog ensures everyone remains informed on compliance regulations. View the catalog here, and feel free to contact us with any questions about our courses.



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