Weekly Safety Meeting – Eye and Face Protection

Eye and Face Protection

Every day an estimated 1,000 eye injuries occur in American workplaces. No matter where we work, flying particles, dusts, splashes, or flying objects are apt to expose us to potential eye injury. Fortunately, we can protect against these hazards by using the appropriate protective eyewear for our jobs.

A survey by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of about 1,000 minor eye injuries reveals how and why many on-the-job accidents occur:

  • Not wearing eye protection–BLS reports that nearly three out of every five workers injured were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident.

  • Wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job–About 40 of the injured workers were wearing some form of eye protection when the accident occurred. These workers were most likely to be wearing eyeglasses with no side shields, though injuries among employees wearing full-cup or flat-fold side shields occurred as well.

Types of protection:

Safety Glasses–impact-resistant lenses with side shields that protect against particles that might enter the eyes from the side;

Goggles–protect from impact, dust, and chemical splashes; and

Face Shields–not for eye protection, use for face protection with chemicals, when grinding, or chipping. Other eye protection also is required.

Causes of Eye and Face Injuries:

  • Splashes from harmful liquid chemicals such as acids or cleaning solutions;

  • Flying debris, chips, and dust from grinding and windy conditions;

  • Flying projectiles from objects colliding, falling, or being dumped;

  • Loose straps, cords, or banding that breaks or snaps under extreme tension; and

  • Extreme heat and light radiation from exposure to flames, welding, or torches

BLS found that almost 70% of the accidents studied resulted from flying or falling objects, or sparks striking the eye. Injured workers estimated that nearly three-fifths of the objects were smaller than a pinhead. Most of the particles were said to be traveling faster than a hand-thrown object when the accident occurred.

Reduce eye hazards:

  • Use engineering controls (best) such as machine guards that prevent the escape of particles or welding curtains for arc flash protection.

  • Use administrative controls (good) such as making certain areas “off limits” unless that is your work assignment area or putting passageways out of active work zones.

  • Use the proper protective eyewear (required, but doesn’t remove all risk). 

Safety eye and face protection:

  • Safety eye and face protection includes non-prescription and prescription safety glasses, clear or tinted goggles, faceshields, welding helmets, and some full-face type respirators that meet the ANSI Z87.1 Eye and Face Protection Standard.

  • The safety eyewear must have “Z87” or “Z87%20″ marked on the frame and, in some cases, the lens.

Prescription glasses:

If you wear prescription glasses, you must also wear one of the following when eye hazards are present:

  • Goggles or other protective devices designed to fit over your prescription glasses; or

  • Prescription protective eyewear that was made to your specific prescription.

Care of eye protection:

  • To prevent scratching the lens, take care when setting your eye protection down or putting it away for the day.

  • Replace the lens or get new glasses when scratches on the lens become noticeable.

  • Clean eye protection regularly at the eye protection cleaning station, if available. Or use water and a soft absorbent towel such as a paper towel. Don’t use your shirt or a rag that collects and holds dirt. It will scratch the lens.


Always give eyes the highest possible level of protection. The right PPE will give your eyes the greatest protection against all possible hazards. Inspect and maintain this PPE to prevent damage to your eyes.

Eyes are priceless – eye protection is cheap!!! 


Download flyer: SMOTW_411_EyeFaceProtection.pdf (114.92 kb)

Download Spanish flyer: SMOTW_411_EyeandFaceProtection_esp.pdf (116.50 kb)

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