All About Eye Protection

by David Roll & Ken Duffie & H.L. Bouton, Plant Safety & Maintenance

safetyglassesOn the job accidents and injuries are most often a result of negligence and unsafe working conditions. In an effort to protect workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), created standards 1910.132 and 1910.133, to address requirements for providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and eye protection in the workplace. However, most employers find it hard to sort through the standards to get to the heart of what they really mean in everyday life.

OSHA STANDARDS 1910.132 AND 1910.133

OSHA Standard 1910.132 (Personal Protective Equipment) states that, “Protective equipment…shall be provided, used, and maintained [by the employer] in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards…encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.”

The standard goes on to stress that if an employee owns his own protective equipment, the employer is responsible for making sure it is adequate in substance and design for the work performed, including maintenance and cleaning. That stands for all PPE to be used in the workplace. OSHA also requires that all employers, “…assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).” If such hazards exist, the employer must, “select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment; communicate selection decisions to each affected employee; and, select PPE that properly fits each affected employee.” According to this standard, defective or damaged personal protective equipment shall not be issued or used in the workplace.

The employer is also responsible for documenting the required workplace hazard assessment in a written certification that states the workplace evaluated, a witness to the evaluation, and the dates of the assessment, as well as providing training to each employee who is required to use PPE. Each such employee shall be trained to know at least the following:

When and what PPE is necessary; how to properly “don, doff, adjust, and wear PPE”; the limitations, proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the PPE.

Each employee needs to be able to demonstrate their understanding of the training, and the ability to use PPE properly, before being allowed to perform work requiring it. If an employer has reason to believe that any employee who has already been trained, is not yet familiar and skilled enough to use the PPE, that employee must be retrained. And, like the certification that is necessary in conducting a workplace hazard analysis, employers also need to verify that each affected employee has received and understood the required training. This certification must include, “the name of each employee trained and the date(s) of training.”

OSHA Standard 1910.133 (Eye and Face Protection) requires that, “Employers shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards….”

This standard also conveys that employers are responsible for making sure that eyewear with side protectors are issued when danger of flying particles exists, and that the correct filter lenses are used when the employee is in danger of, “injurious light radiation.”

The Standard goes on to state that employees who wear prescriptive lenses while performing tasks that involve eye hazards, are issued eye protection that, “incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.”

Other items in the Standard include: The necessity of eye and face PPE to be clearly marked in order to identify the manufacturer; the stipulation that any protective eye and face devices purchased after July 5, 1994 conform with ANSI Z87.1-1989 standard; and eye and face protective devices purchased prior to July 5, 1994 conform with or be equivalent to the ANSI Z87.1-1968 standard.

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