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Protect Your Eyes

When it comes to proper eye protection, safety glasses may not be enough.  I encounter situations where there seems to be confusion about the type of eye protection required.  The question is not, “What does the rule say?”  The big question is, “What is the hazard being controlled?”  Simply put, “The hazard sets the requirement.”

Identifying the hazard is always the first step.  For instance, consider a situation when a welder is found not wearing safety glasses under her hood.  At first glance we think, “Well, she has a hood on.”  But something I learned while obtaining an associate degree in welding technology is that the hazard presents itself as the metal cools.  If you are MIG welding you will notice a glaze over the weld created by silica.  Essentially this is glass and when it cools, it tends to pop off of the weld.  If a welder get this in his eyes, it can cut and be difficult to remove.  This is why safety glasses should be worn under the hood. Understand the hazards that can occur during temperature changes and determine the best type of eye protection to use throughout the work.

Chemicals can also cause a hazard during changing conditions, creating the need for eye protection beyond standard safety glasses.  Certain chemical dusts and vapors can react to skin and eye moisture, causing burns.  Goggles are designed for different conditions.  Some have vents that flow only one way to keep chemicals from flowing into the eye area.

OSHA 1910.133(a)(1)
The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.
OSHA 1910.133(a)(2)
The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects. Detachable side protectors (e.g. clip-on or slide-on side shields) meeting the pertinent requirements of this section are acceptable.
OSHA 1910.133(a)(3)
The employer shall ensure that each affected employee who wears prescription lenses while engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears 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.
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