OSHA Standards for Eye and Face Protection – Background and Summary of Requirements

  • By: Staff Editor
  • Date: August 16, 2011
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Work related eye injuries blind thousands of people annually. The numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics make for grim reading:

  • Only 1% of approximately 770 workers suffering face injuries were wearing face protection
  • About 40% of the workers with eye injuries wore eye protective equipment
  • Nearly three out of five workers are injured while failing to wear eye and face protection
  • Almost one-third of face injuries were caused by metal objects, most often blunt and weighing one pound or more
  • These accidents resulted in cuts, lacerations, or punctures in 48% of the total while 27% suffered fractures including broken or lost teeth.

Most of these injuries could have been prevented if workers were wearing adequate protection. Most of the injured workers said that eye and face protection was not normally used or practiced in their work areas or it was not required for the type of work performed at the time of the accident.


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Summary of OSHA Requirements

OSHA standards that provide mandatory requirements and compliance assistance for employers when selecting proper eye and face protection include:

  • 1910.132 -General requirements
  • 1910.133 -General Industry
  • 1915.153 -Maritime
  • 1926.102 -Construction
  • 1910.252 - Welding, Cutting, and Brazing

Employer’s responsibilities

According to OSHA Standard 1010.132, employers should:

  • Ensure that employees exposed to eye or face hazards should use appropriate eye or face equipment
  • Ensure that the eye protection used has side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects
  • Ensure that employees using prescription lenses in workplaces with potential eye or face hazards should also use eye protection. This should incorporate the prescription in its design or be protection that can be worn with the prescription lenses.

Eye and face hazards in the workplace include:

  • Flying particles
  • Molten metal
  • Liquid chemicals
  • Acids or caustic liquids
  • Chemical gases or vapors
  • Potentially injurious light radiation

Eye and face protection devices

These devices must comply with the American National Standards Institute, ANSI Z87.1-1989 standard if purchased after July 5, 1994 or ANSI Z87.1-1968 if purchased before July 5, 1994.

The devices should also meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Provide adequate protection against the particular hazards for which they are designed
  • Be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed
  • Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions
  • Fit snugly and not unduly interfere with the movements of the wearer
  • Be durable
  • Be capable of being disinfected
  • Be easily cleanable
  • Be distinctly marked to facilitate identification only of the manufacturer

Employee training

Employers must provide training for each employee who is required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace.

  • Each employee should be trained to know at least the following:
  • When PPE is necessary
  • What PPE is necessary
  • How to properly don, doff, adjust, and wear PPE
  • Limitations of the PPE
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the PPE
  • All training should be conducted by a knowledgeable, designated person.
  • All required training should be presented in a manner that the employee can understand.
  • Employees should demonstrate an understanding of the training specified and the ability to use PPE properly, before being allowed to perform work requiring the use of PPE.

Employers should retrain those employees who have undergone training but show limited understanding of PPE and its use. An inadequately trained employee can injure him or herself and risk OSHA non-compliance.

Written certification

The employer should verify that employees have received and understood the required PPE training through a written certification. This certification should include:

  • Name of each trained employee
  • Date(s) of the training
  • Subject of the certification

Handling emergencies

If an eye injury occurs, quick action can prevent a permanent disability. For this reason OSHA requires that:

  • Emergency eyewashes should be placed in all hazardous areas
  • First-aid instructions should be posted close to potential danger spots
  • Employees must know where the closest eyewash station is and how to get there with restricted vision


Additional Resources

-    Read the OSHA standards for eye and face protection in full.

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