Double Up' on Eye/Face Protection

Some dual-use situations really aren't "doubling up." In many instances, the practice may be considered a necessary tool for any job.

OSHA has adopted the most recent ANSI Z87.1-2003 Standard, Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection. It is imperative that employers know the standard and comply with OSHA directives.

It is the employer's responsibility to assess all work areas to identify potential hazards. Assessing the workplace, choosing and issuing the proper safety eyewear, and educating employees on the correct use and storage of their protective eyewear constitute an excellent start to an effective safety program. By combining these steps with safety incentives and corporate policies regarding the use of safety eyewear, you will be able to initiate a safety program that will prevent eye injuries in your workplace.

There are instances in which it may appear you are "doubling up" on your eye protection program. The ANSI standard will help you understand why it is important to have a comprehensive eye protection program. Some examples of "doubling up" include the following:

Faceshields
If the employer, after a thorough workplace assessment has been completed, has determined a faceshield is needed for a specific job, there are a few issues that need to be addressed:

  • Is the faceshield to be mounted on headgear?
  • Is the faceshield to be mounted on a retainer attached to a hard hat?
  • Does the workplace environment or task require a clear, tinted, mirror-coated, or IR-filtering shield?
  • Is heat, radiation, UV, IR, or chemical splash a factor?
  • What type of material should the faceshield be made of (i.e., polycarbonate, PETG, acetate, etc.)?

Faceshields are not considered to be primary eye protection. Safety spectacles or goggles always are to be worn with the faceshield to ensure adequate protection. It may appear to be "doubling up," but it's not!

Welding Helmets
This is another example of what may appear to "doubling up." Welding helmets are designed to pivot to be raised above the welder's head. Like the faceshield, care must be taken in selecting the proper lens for the job. Filtering lenses, auto-darkening lenses, and other types are options. Various levels of tints are offered.

Welders are exposed to a variety of hazards, including flying particles, sparks, dust, and more. Safety spectacles should be worn under the welding helmet. The reason to "double up" on faceshields and helmets is because once they are pivoted to the up position, you otherwise have no protection.

Sideshields
Safety spectacles usually are equipped with some sort of side protection. However, especially in the case of prescription safety eyewear, the sideshield may be removable.

The all-important assessment of your workplace will reveal the need for sideshield. Side impact protection from flying particles, dust, light, etc. may determine the need for sideshields.

Conclusion
In an average day, workers often find themselves in situations where there are sparks, flying particles, dust or debris, and falling or swinging objects. The opportunity for an accident is undeniable.

Workers who do not wear properly fitting protective eye/face equipment are at risk of losing their sight. Losing their sight could mean losing their livelihood, not to mention their view of people and the beauty of the world around them. In many instances, "doubling up" may be considered a necessary tool for any job.

Workers who have suffered an eye injury know how painful it can be. Although the discomfort can make examination and treatment difficult, help should be sought as soon as possible after an injury to ward off infection and increase the chance of saving the victim's eyesight. However, what any doctor or industry expert will agree on is that the most effective form of first aid is prevention. Prevention may require "doubling up."


Head and Face Protection Checklist

Yes

No

As part of your PPE program, has your facility been comprehensively evaluated for potential hazards requiring hard hats, goggles, safety glasses, or faceshields?

Yes

No

Are areas requiring head and face protection marked off-limits to unauthorized personnel or employees who are not wearing proper PPE? Is this policy strictly enforced?

Yes

No

Do employees understand the signs and barriers used to prevent unauthorized entry when they are not wearing the correct PPE?

Yes

No

Are there processes at your site where open overhead hazards are present and constantly changing?

Yes

No

Do employees occasionally perform tasks such as inspection, maintenance, and repair where particles could fall into their eyes?

Yes

No

Do they enter cramped locations where bumps on the head could occur on pipes, nails, and other protrusions?

Yes

No

Do tasks and processes at your facility require the use, transfer, or cleanup of chemicals?

Yes

No

If so, do you have a comprehensive PPE program for employees' protection from chemical and physical hazards, including those encountered during cleanup and disposal operations?

Yes

No

Are biological exposures from splashes or spills possible on your site?

Yes

No

Are employees handling or performing tasks involving storage or use of hazardous or corrosive solid granular products?

Yes

No

Are appropriate eyewash facilities available for their immediate use if needed?

Yes

No

Are all eyewash facilities labeled as to their purpose and how they should be used? Are these facilities tested and kept clean for use at all times?

Yes

No

Are on-site rescue personnel equipped with complete first aid supplies and given special instructions for head injuries, such as deep puncture wounds?

Yes

No

Have rescue planning and training been completed, including for part-time or temporary staffers?

Yes

No

Are appropriate hard hats used in any area in which there is a potential hazard from falling, flying, or slung objects?

Yes

No

Is all head and face PPE inspected before it is given to the employees?

Yes

No

Are the workers instructed to inspect protective eye equipment prior to each use, looking for pitted or scratched lenses that might reduce vision and compromise the level of protection?

Yes

No

Do they always put on safety glasses and remove them with both hands? (Using one hand can loosen the frames, which could impair vision over time.)

Yes

No

Do wearers keep the lenses clean and defogged if necessary? Where goggles are used extensively, are they cleaned often?

Yes

No

Is protective eyewear that doesn't fit properly or is scratched, bent, or broken promptly replaced?

Yes

No

Are employees told how to report problems with their PPE and how to obtain replacements?

This checklist was adapted from one compiled by Linda F. Johnson, a former technical editor of Occupational Health & Safety. It is not intended as a substitute for a comprehensive safety program.

This article appears in the June 2005 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

This article originally appeared in the June 2005 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Dave Roll is Vice President of Sales and Marketing with H.L. Bouton Company Inc. (www.hlbouton.com), a manufacturer of protective eyewear that is located in Wareham, Mass.

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