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Eye Protection

The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible to provide the proper eye and face protection to all of their lab workers. Eye protection (safety glasses and goggles) is a personal item and should be issued for exclusive use by a particular individual. Lab workers are required to wear the eye protection at all times when working with hazardous materials.

The required eye and face protection for all work with chemicals that can cause eye injury use (i.e., corrosive, formaldehyde, and methylene chloride) are:

  • Goggles with indirect ventilation (marked "ANSIZ87 D3")
  • Faceshield worn over goggles:
    • Any amount of hydrofluoric acid (HF)
    • Pouring corrosives in volumes greater than 1 liter
    • Filling or dispensing liquid nitrogen
  • Safety glasses can be worn instead of goggles when working with low risk of splash or droplets and small amounts of chemicals or biological material that will not cause eye injuries or impact hazards from machinery.

The lab specific training must include instruction on its care, use and limitations. Eye protection must be maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition (especially if reissued). Eye protection must be replaced when the lenses become scratched or damaged.

Hazard Review

Eye injuries can be caused by direct contact with chemicals or other hazardous materials. These injuries occur when protective eyewear is not used or when the incorrect protective eyewear is used and an exposure occurs from around or under the protective eye equipment. Serious and irreversible damage can occur when chemical substances contact the eyes in the form of splash, mists, vapors, or fumes. When working with or around hazardous materials, it is important to know the location of emergency eyewash stations and how to access them with restricted vision.

Goggles are the primary protectors intended to shield the eyes against liquid or chemical splash, irritating mists, vapors, and fumes. They form a protective seal around the eyes, and prevent objects or liquids from entering under or around the goggles. This is especially important when working with or around liquids that may splash, spray, or mist.

Faceshields are secondary protectors intended to protect the entire face against exposure to chemical hazards and are worn over goggles.

Safety glasses ("spectacles") have side shields and provide less protection from eye injuries than goggles.

The correct type of eye protection is based on the hazard review of the work being performed. Specific eyewear must be listed in the written lab safety protocol.

The potential eye and face hazards that must be considered include:

  • Chemical
    • Corrosive; easily absorbed through the skin; known to cause eye damage
  • Biological
    • Biosafety Level 2 or higher
  • Optical Radiation
    • High intensity light sources, lasers, ultraviolet lamps welding, brazing, cutting, furnaces, heat treating
  • Radioactive Materials
    • Liquid forms (i.e., stock solutions)
  • Impact
    • Machinery or processes where any movement of tools, machine elements or particles could exist
  • Electrical hazards (e.g., arc flash)
    • Do not use metal frame protective devices in electrical hazard areas
  • Heat
    • High temperatures that could result in facial burns, eye injury or ignition of PPE
  • Dust
  • Glare

When there is the potential for several hazards in the same procedure, adequate protection against the highest level of each of the hazards must be provided.

Wearers of prescription (Rx) eyewear should wear eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design or that can be worn over prescription lenses without disrupting either the prescription eyewear or the protective eyewear. Prescription eyewear, including contact lenses, does not provide eye protection.

Comfort and fit are important considerations when selecting eye protection. Lab workers will more likely wear the eye protection when it fits comfortably. Individual facial characteristics may interfere with fitting goggles, and in order to provide adequate protection, the eye protection must have a snug fit. Eye protection that fits poorly will not provide the protection for which it was designed. Several brands and styles of eye protection may need to be available. Eye protection is generally available in a variety of styles and sizes and care should be taken to ensure that the right size is selected for a particular person. Eye protection with adjustable fitting features (e.g. straps) need to be adjusted on a regular basis for a comfortable fit.

Specialty eye protection includes:

  • Laser (Class 3 or 4) Optical density based on beam parameters
  • UV (Marked "ANSI Z87 U and scale number")
  • Welding (Marked "ANSI Z87 W shade number")
  • Impact/Machine Shop (Marked "ANSI Z87+")
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