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When Are Employees Required to Wear Safety Glasses or Eye Protection?

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on December 3, 2021 at 11:30 AM

Every day, 2,000 workers in the U.S. suffer a job-related eye injury requiring medical treatment, with one-third of them requiring treatment in hospital emergency departments.

That’s 2,000 injuries too many when you consider that eye injuries are 100% preventable with the right eye protection.

But when are employees required to wear safety glasses or eye protection? Here’s what managers need to know.

The Basic Rules of Eye Protection

OSHA standard 1910.132 lays out an employer’s responsibility for providing eye and face protection. According to the standard, personal protective equipment (including eye protection) must be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary condition wherever it is necessary for use.

As with other forms of PPE, the employer must pay for and provide eye protection. The one exception is prescription safety glasses, though this only applies if you allow the employee to use the safety glasses outside of a work setting. The logic follows that if an employee essentially uses these as personal safety glasses in all contexts, they will carry the glasses with them between one job and the next, and in that case, it makes little sense for employers to pay.

Either way, employers cannot require employees to pay for or provide their own PPE. They can, however, require employees to wear safety glasses or eye protection as a condition of work if that eye protection is necessary to do the job safely.

When Are Employees Required to Wear Safety Glasses or Eye Protection?

According to OSHA standard 1910.133 (Eye and face protection), employers are responsible for ensuring that employees use the appropriate eye and face protection against hazards such as:

  • Flying particles
  • Acids
  • Caustic liquids
  • Chemical gases
  • Chemical vapors
  • Molten metal
  • Liquid chemicals
  • Light radiation

Basically, any situation where you might reasonably expect an eye hazard demands wearing the right eye protection for the occasion. Otherwise, employers are neglecting their safety responsibilities in accordance with OSHA safety standards.

What Type of Protective Eyewear Do They Need?

All eye and face protection must comply with the following consensus standards:

In addition, under standard 1910.133(a)(5), the employer must ensure that each affected employee uses safety glasses with the appropriate shade filter for the task, based on the table contained in the standard. And regardless of type or filter, all safety glasses must include side protection from flying objects.

Safety Beyond PPE

When are employees required to wear safety glasses or eye protection? In short, whenever there might be a hazard requiring them. And as an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide them.

The good news is that understanding your safety obligations doesn’t have to be a headache. Our compliance management software brings together all the standards you need in one intuitive dashboard so you always know where your program stands.

Ready for safety without the hassle? Get in touch today to learn how our software can help.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Risk Management, Safety Tips, Maritime, Oil & Gas, Construction, Manufacturing, Logistics and Transportation, Safety Culture

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