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Eye and Face Protection – Regulation 29 CFR 1926.102

Ranking: 9

A Workplace Story

Barry Weatherall did wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while he prepared chemicals used for cleaning copper pipes. The plumbing and heating engineer added a neutralizing element to sulfuric acid and then left the immediate area to write a work procedure report while the chemicals neutralized. He removed his safety glasses, a face mask and gloves. When he returned to the work area ten minutes later, wearing only a paper dust mask, the chemicals exploded in his face, blinding him.

Weatherall – who asserted that he’d been given incorrect information from a chemical company about the potential risks of the substances he was working with – went through a difficult adjustment period after the incident. He subsequently devoted his time to traveling to industrial workplaces throughout Canada, conducting interactive workshops about the importance of on-the-job eye safety and the need to avoid the “it won’t happen to me” attitude.

The Numbers

Enforcement from October 2019 through September 2020

Total citations: 1,201

Total inspections: 1,200

Total proposed penalties: $4,056,031

Industries most often violating eye and face protection requirements:

Construction: $4,023,139

Wholesale Trade: $16,297

Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: $7,470

Manufacturing (part 3 of 3): $6,000

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: $2,256

Manufacturing (part 2 of 3): $869

Prevention

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. Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environments, making them more vulnerable to injury.

Eye injuries can be caused by:

  • Flying wood or metal chips
  • Splashes with grease and oil
  • Burns from steam, ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure
  • Nails
  • Welding fumes
  • Solvent splashes
  • Glass
  • Wire

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. It is designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to workers The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the nature and extent of the hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used and personal vision needs. Personal protective eyewear includes goggles, face shields, safety glasses or full-face respirators.

Eye protection should be fit to an individual or be adjustable to provide appropriate coverage. It should be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision. Employers should conduct a hazard assessment to determine the appropriate type of protective eyewear appropriate for the potential hazards of a given task.

Compliance

Among the key provisions of the eye and face protection standard:

  • 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.
  • Eye and face PPE shall be distinctly marked to facilitate identification of the manufacturer.
  • Protectors shall meet the following minimum requirements:
    • They shall provide adequate protection against the particular hazards for which they are designed.
    • They shall be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions.
    • They shall fit snugly and shall not unduly interfere with the movements of the wearer.
    • They shall be durable.
    • They shall be capable of being disinfected.
    • They shall be easily cleanable.
  • Protective eye and face protection devices must comply with any of the following consensus standards:
    • ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices, incorporated by reference in § 1926.6;
    • ANSI Z87.1-2003, Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices, incorporated by reference in § 1926.6; or
    • ANSI Z87.1-1989 (R-1998), Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection, incorporated by reference in § 1926.6;
  • Protective eye and face protection devices that the employer demonstrates are at least as effective as protective eye and face protection devices that are constructed in accordance with one of the above consensus standards will be deemed to be in compliance with the requirements of this section.
  • Protection against radiant energy in welding should follow OSHA’s guides for the selection of the proper shade numbers of filter lenses or plates.
  • Employees whose occupation or assignment requires exposure to laser beams shall be furnished suitable laser safety goggles which will protect for the specific wavelength of the laser and be of optical density (O.D.) adequate for the energy involved. WMHS

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