OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926.102: 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. The majority of eye injuries result from small particles or objects – like dust, cement chips, metal slivers and wood chips – striking or scraping the eye. These materials are often ejected by tools or windblown. Some fall from above a worker. Large objects may also strike the eye or face, or a worker may run into an object causing blunt force trauma to the eyeball or eye socket. Nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal can go penetrate the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision. There are also chemical and thermal burns to the eyes and surrounding tissue (often among welders) as well as diseases resulting from exposure to blood splashes, droplets from coughing or sneezing, or from touching the eyes with a contaminated finger or object.
Major Provisions of the 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.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) offers information about workplace eye safety, including the two major reasons for on-the-job eye injuries; the four types of potential eye hazards at work and a discussion of types of eye protection. Click here to visit the AOA website: https://tinyurl.com/4v7aj98x
Why You Should Consider Foam-Lined Eye and Face Protection explains why this type of eyewear is being adapted in more and more workplaces and how the inserts that prevent foreign particles from making contact with the eyes. Click here to read the article: https://tinyurl.com/3yrv2vjv WMHS
Eyewash Maintenance Can Prevent Infections
A related standard (29 CFR 1910.151(c)) requires eyewash facilities in workplaces where corrosive chemicals are used. Having eyewashes be available if a worker’s eyes are exposed to hazmat is important, but if they are not properly maintained, they may contain organisms known to cause infections, such as Acanthamoeba, Pseudomonas and Legionella. Eye injuries, as well as skin damage or a compromised immune system, can leave workers who come in contact with these organisms especially susceptible to infection. Serious health effects, including permanent vision loss, neurological infections and severe lung diseases are possible. Eye pain, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and eye inflammation are also possible.
To properly maintain eyewash stations, refer to manufacturer instructions on how often and how long to activate specific plumbed systems in order to reduce microbial contamination and generally reference the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z358.1-2014. Maintenance procedures include flushing the system and using only solutions appropriate for flushing eyes. For more information, see OSHA’s FactSheet, Health Effects from Contaminated Water in Eyewash Stations: https://tinyurl.com/2p8ehz8v
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