Eye and Face Protection

Types of Eye Protection

According to OSHA selecting the most suitable eye and face protection should take into consideration the following elements:

* Ability to protect against specific workplace hazards.
* Should fit properly and be reasonably comfortable to wear.
* Should provide unrestricted vision and movement.
* Should be durable and cleanable.
* Should allow unrestricted functioning of any other required PPE.

Eye and face protection must clearly identify the manufacturer. Any new eye and face protective devices must comply with ANSI Z87.1-1989 or be at least as effective as this standard requires. Any equipment purchased before this requirement took effect on July 5, 1994, must comply with the earlier ANSI Standard (ANSI Z87.1-1968) or be shown to be equally effective.

An employer may choose to provide one pair of protective eyewear for each position rather than individual eyewear for each employee. If this is done, the employer must make sure that employees disinfect shared protective eyewear after each use. Protective eyewear with corrective lenses may only be used by the employee for whom the corrective prescription was issued and may not be shared among employees.

Some of the most common types of eye and face protection include the following:

* Safety spectacles. These protective eyeglasses have safety frames constructed of metal or plastic and impact-resistant lenses. Side shields are available on some models.
* Goggles. These are tight-fitting eye protection that completely cover the eyes, eye sockets and the facial area immediately surrounding the eyes and provide protection from impact, dust and splashes. Some goggles will fit over corrective lenses.
* Welding shields. Constructed of vulcanized fiber or fiberglass and fitted with a filtered lens, welding shields protect eyes from burns caused by infrared or intense radiant light; they also protect both the eyes and face from flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips produced during welding, brazing, soldering and cutting operations. OSHA requires filter lenses to have a shade number appropriate to protect against the specific hazards of the work being performed in order to protect against harmful light radiation.
* Face shields. These transparent sheets of plastic extend from the eyebrows to below the chin and across the entire width of the employee’s head. Some are polarized for glare protection. Face shields protect against nuisance dusts and potential splashes or sprays of hazardous liquids but will not provide adequate protection against impact hazards. Face shields used in combination with goggles or safety spectacles will provide additional protection against impact hazards.

The intense light associated with welding operations can cause serious and sometimes permanent eye damage if operators do not wear proper eye protection. The intensity of light or radiant energy produced by welding, cutting or brazing operations varies according to a number of factors including the task producing the light, the electrode size and the arc current.

OSHA provides tables showing the minimum protective filtering shades for a variety of welding, cutting and brazing operations in general industry and in the shipbuilding industry.

As a rule of thumb, start with a shade that is too dark to see the weld zone. Then go to a lighter shade which gives sufficient view of the weld zone without going below the minimum. In oxyfuel gas welding or cutting where the torch produces a high yellow light, it is desirable to use a filter lens that absorbs the yellow or sodium line in the visible light of the (spectrum) operation.

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