Selection & Fitting | Eye and Face Protection

Each eye, face, or face-and-eye protector is designed for a particular hazard. In selecting the protector, Revision 6/08 consider the kind and degree of hazard. Where there is a choice of protectors and the degree of protection required is not an important issue, worker comfort may be a deciding factor. The BLS survey showed that few Revision 6/08workers ever complained about poor vision or discomfort with personal eye equipment.
Persons using corrective spectacles and those who are required by OSHA to wear eye protection must wear face shields, goggles, or spectacles of one of the following types:
  • Spectacles with protective lenses providing optical correction;
  • Goggles worn over corrective spectacles without disturbing the adjustment of the spectacles; or
  • Goggles that incorporate corrective lenses mounted behind the protective lenses.
When limitations or precautions are indicated by the manufacturer, they should be transmitted to the user and strictly observed.
Over the years many types and styles of eye and face-and-eye protective equipment have been developed to meet the demands for protection against a variety of hazards.
Revision 6/08 Goggles come in a number of different styles:
  • Revision 6/08 Eyecups,
  • Revision 6/08 Flexible or cushioned goggles,
  • Revision 6/08 Plastic eyeshield goggles, and
  • Revision 6/08 Foundrymen’s goggles.
Revision 6/08 Goggles are manufactured in several styles for specific uses such as protecting against dust and splash, and in chipper’s, welder’s, and cutter’s models.
Revision 6/08 Safety spectacles require special frames. Combinations of normal streetwear frames with safety lenses do not provide adequate protection and are not in compliance.
Many hard hats and nonrigid helmets are designed with face and eye protective equipment.
Design, construction, testing, and use of eye and face protection must be in accordance with ANSI Z87.1-1968 if the equipment was purchased before July 5, 1994 and in accordance with ANSI Z87.1-1989 if the devices were purchased after July 5, 1994.


Fitting of goggles and safety spectacles should be done by someone skilled in the procedure. Prescription safety spectacles should be fitted only by qualified optical personnel.

Eye and Face Protection

Revision 6/08 Employees have to use 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. Eye protection with side protectors is required where there is a hazard from flying objects. Workers who wear contact lenses must wear eye protection over the lenses. Eye and face PPE has Revision 6/08 to be distinctly marked to identify the manufacturer. Filtered lenses should always be the appropriate shade number for the work being performed.
Protective eye and face devices purchased after July 5, 1994 must comply with ANSI Z87.1-1989 or be demonstrated to be equally effective. Devices purchased before that date must comply with ANSI Z87.1-1968 or be equally effective. General guidance for the proper selection of eye and face protection against hazards associated with the listed hazard “source” operations.
Eye and face protective equipment is required by OSHA where there is a reasonable probability of preventable Revision 6/08 injury when such equipment is used. Provide a type of protector suitable for work to be performed and ensure that employees use the protectors. This applies to supervisors, management personnel, and should apply to visitors while they are in hazardous areas.
A BLS study found that about 60 percent of workers who suffered eye injuries were not wearing eye protective equipment. When asked why they were not wearing face protection at the time of the accident, workers indicated that face protection was not normally used or practiced in their type of work, or it was not required for the type of work performed at the time of the accident.
Revision 6/08 Provide suitable eye protectors where machines or operations present the hazard of flying objects, glare, liquids, injurious radiation, or a combination of these hazards. Protectors have to meet the following minimum requirements:
  • Provide adequate protection against particular hazards for which they are designed;
  • Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions;
  • Fit snugly without interfering with the movements or vision of the wearer;
  • Be durable;
  • Be capable of being disinfected;
  • Be easily cleanable; and
  • Be kept clean and in good repair.
The National Society to Prevent Blindness recommends that emergency eyewashes be placed in all hazardous locations. First aid instructions should be posted close to such potential danger spots since any delay to immediate aid or an early mistake in dealing with an eye injury can result in lasting damage.

Helmet types and classes | Head Protection

Protective helmets are classified according to the impact and electrical performance requirements they are designed to meet. In 1997, ANSI updated its head protection standard and changed the type and class designations of protective helmets.
Type: The old designations of Type 1 (hats) and Type 2 (caps) are no longer used. Performance requirements for the new Type 1 helmet are equivalent to those specified in the 1986 standard. Type 2 helmet performance requirements include protection from impact to the front, back and sides as well as the top; off-center penetration resistance; and chin strap retention.
Classification: New electrical insulation classifications have replaced the 1986 classifications. They are Class G (general), Class E (electrical), and Class C (conductive-no electrical protection). These classes replace the 1986 classifications of A, B and C respectively.
Types and classes-ANSI Z89.1-1986 
Protective helmet
Helmet with full brim, not less than 1.25 inches wide.
Brimless helmet with a peak extending forward from the crown.
Protective helmet
Intended for protection against impact hazards and provide limited voltage protection.
Provide impact and penetration protection from falling or flying objects and from high-voltage shock and burn. Used extensively by electrical workers.
Designed specifically for light-weight comfort and impact protection. Offers no dielectric protection, often referred to as a “bump cap.”
Types and classes-ANSI Z89.1-1997 
Helmets intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow only to the top of the head.
Helmets intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow which may be received off center or to the top of the head.
Electrical class
Protective helmet
G (General)
Class G helmets are intended to reduce the danger of contact exposure to low voltage conductors. Test samples are prooftested at 2,200 volts (phase to ground). However, this voltage is not intended as an indication of the voltage at which the helmet protects the wearer.
E (Electrical)
Class E helmets are intended to reduce the danger of exposure to high voltage conductors. Test samples are proof-tested at 20,000 volts (phase to ground). However, this voltage is not intended as an indication of the voltage at which the helmet protects the wearer.
C (Conductive)
Class C helmets are not intended to provide protection against contact with electrical conductors.

Proper fit

Helmets are available in either “one size fits all” or individually adjustable. To provide the best protection, a safety helmet must fit properly to ensure that it will not fall off during work operations.
The headband is the part of the harness that encircles the head. It should be adjustable in at least 1/8-hat size increments.
  • Adjust the headband to the proper size so there is adequate clearance between the shell and the headband and space to allow ventilation.
  • If a sweatband is used, it must cover at least the forehead portion of the headband.
Chin and nape straps
The chinstrap is an adjustable strap that fits under the chin and attaches to the helmet. A nape strap fits behind the head. These straps may be necessary to keep the helmet on the worker’s head.
  • Adjust the straps so they remain in place and the helmet stays firmly on the head.
  • The strap should, however, break at a reasonably low force to prevent a strangulation hazard.

Care and maintenance

Clean the shell with hot water and a mild detergent, then rinse with clear water. When the helmet is dry, check for signs of cracks, penetration, or other damage due to rough treatment or wear. It’s a good idea to inspect the helmet daily, or prior to each use. If the helmet is damaged, it should not be worn.
Consult the manufacturer before painting a helmet shell or using a solvent to clean it. Some paints and solvents may damage the shell and reduce its protective level.
Holes should never be drilled or punched in a helmet shell for ventilation. This only serves to reduce the helmet’s ability to sustain impact. Class E helmets must never have holes drilled in the shell or any added accessory that contains metal.
Do not store a safety helmet on the rear window shelf of a vehicle. Overexposure to ultraviolet light such as sunlight and extreme heat may cause the shell to deteriorate.
A snug fitting helmet liner can be worn to protect the head, ears, and neck in cold weather.

Head Protection

Head injuries are usually caused by the impact and penetration of falling or flying objects, or by bumping against a fixed object. Injuries also occur when workers’ unprotected heads come in contact with exposed electrical conductors. Wearing a protective helmet lessens the chance of a serious head injury when objects such as small tools, pieces of wood, stones, or sparks from overhead work come in contact with the head.
Preventing head injuries is an important factor in every safety program. A survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of accidents and injuries noted that most workers who suffered impact injuries to the head were not wearing head protection. The majority of those workers were injured while performing their normal jobs at their regular worksites.
The BLS survey showed that most employers of people injured did not require workers to wear head protection. Of those wearing hard hats, all but five percent indicated that they were required by their employers to wear them. It was found that the vast majority who wore them all or most of the time at work felt that hard hats were practical in their jobs.
Identification, then elimination or control of a hazard that could lead to an accident, is the first step to take. However, many accidents that cause head injuries are difficult to anticipate and control. Where hazardous situations exist, the employer must provide head protection to eliminate injury. The best practice to follow is, wherever the potential for dangerous conditions exists, wear head protection.

Types of head protection

Head injuries are caused by falling or flying objects, or by bumping the head against a fixed object. Head protection, in the form of a protective helmet, must do two things — resist penetration and absorb the shock of a blow. This is achieved by making the helmet’s shell of a material hard enough to resist the blow, and by using a shock-absorbing lining made up of a headband and crown straps to keep the shell away from the wearer’s skull. The outer shell will:
  • Absorb the force of impact,
  • Deflect falling or flying items,
  • Prevent sharp objects from penetrating the skull, and
  • Protect the front, sides, and back of the head.
The shock-absorbing lining forms a suspension system consisting of a headband and crown straps that hold the suspension system to the shell. This system spreads the force of impact over a wider area of the head.
All materials that come in contact with the wearer’s head must be non-irritating to normal skin. Observe all manufacturer’s instructions regarding precautions and limitations of the helmets you choose.

Helmet markings

While OSHA’s head protection standard does not spell out the criteria that protective helmets must meet to provide maximum protection, it does require that helmets conform to the performance criteria of the American National Standard, ANSI Z89.1.
This industry consensus standard describes the types and classes, materials, performance requirements, and tests that manufacturers have to meet to ensure that their helmets provide adequate protection. Each helmet must be marked with the following information:
  • Name and/or identification mark of the manufacturer;
  • Date of manufacture;
  • ANSI designation;
  • Type and class designation; and
  • Appropriate headband size range.
If any of this information is missing or obliterated, the helmet should not be worn.
All protective helmets purchased after July 5, 1994 must comply with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z89.1-1986 American National Standard for Personnel Protection — Protective Headwear for Industrial Workers-Requirements. Equipment purchased prior to the July date must comply with the ANSI Z89.1-1969 American National Standard Safety Requirements for Industrial Head Protection and ANSI Z89.2-1971 Requirements for Industrial Protective Helmets for Electrical Workers.
These industry standards should be consulted for details. Later editions of the standards are available and acceptable for use.

Revision 6/08 Employer-Paid PPE

In November 2007, OSHA issued its final rule on employer-paid personal protective equipment. Under the rule, all PPE, with few exceptions, must be provided at no cost to employees. According to OSHA, employers currently pay for 95 percent of employee PPE. But, when employees are responsible to pay for their own PPE, they:
  • Are likely to purchase the wrong equipment,
  • May use the PPE beyond its expected service life, or
  • May avoid purchasing the equipment at all.
When employers pay for PPE, they are more likely to select the right PPE for the hazards present in their workplaces. OSHA has also found that when employers pay for PPE, they make sure the equipment is maintained and replaced as necessary, and generally take more responsibility for PPE selection and use.

Revision 6/08 Who’s covered?

The new rule, which OSHA first proposed in March 1999, affects most of the agency’s PPE standards, including Parts:
  • 1910 General Industry,
  • 1926 Construction,
  • 1915 Shipyards,
  • 1917 Marine terminals, and
  • 1918 Longshoring.
The regulatory text is almost the same for each of the industries. There are only small changes from one industry to the next. For example, the exception for logging boots in the general industry standard is not found in the construction or shipyard standards.

Revision 6/08 What’s covered?

The rule adds a new paragraph, §1910.132(h), to the General Requirements section of the Personal Protective Equipment rule. It addresses only the issue of who pays for PPE. It does not require employers to provide PPE where none has been required before, such as payment for uniforms, caps, or other clothing worn solely to identify a person as an employee.
Additionally, it does not require payment for items worn:
  • To keep employees clean for purposes unrelated to safety or health such as blue jeans, aprons or other apparel, when worn solely to prevent clothing and/or skin from becoming soiled; and
  • For product safety, consumer safety, or patient safety and health, rather than employee safety and health such as requiring food service employees to wear hairnets for food safety purposes.
The following information describes the employer’s responsibilities for paying for personal protective equipment used in the workplace.

Revision 6/08 Pay for required PPE: 1910.132(h)(1)

Payment is required for any PPE used by an employee to comply with any one of the PPE requirements throughout OSHA’s standards. If the PPE is not required, then the employer doesn’t have to pay for it. When an employer selects a specific type of PPE to be used at the workplace to comply with a standard, the employer is required to pay for it.

Revision 6/08 Safety shoes and glasses: 1910.132(h)(2)

The employer is not required to pay for non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear, provided that the employer permits these items to be worn off the worksite.
If the employer requires employees to keep non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear at the workplace, the employer must pay for the items.
In cases where safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots) and prescription safety eyewear are non-standard “specialty” items, the employer must pay for them. For example, prescription eyeglass inserts for full-facepiece respirators and non-skid shoes for floor strippers are specialty items, so payment will be required.

Revision 6/08 Metatarsal protection: 1910.132(h)(3)

OSHA allows employers to use metatarsal guards or footwear with built-in metatarsal protection when metatarsal protection is needed in the workplace. If the employer requiresemployees to wear metatarsal shoes or boots, the employer has to pay for the footwear.
However, when the employer provides metatarsal guards and allows the employee, at his or her request, to use shoes or boots with built-in metatarsal protection, the employer is not required to pay for the metatarsal shoes or boots.
Employers may contribute to the cost of metatarsal shoes or boots. Some employers currently offer their employees a choice between using a metatarsal guard provided and paid for by the employer or a metatarsal shoe or boot with some portion of the cost of the shoe or boot paid for by the employer, essentially establishing an allowance system. OSHA believes this to be an acceptable practice.

Revision 6/08 Logging boots and everyday clothing: 1910.132(h)(4)

OSHA does not require the employer to pay for the logging boots required by §1910.266(d)(1)(v). The logging standard exempts these boots and subparagraph (h)(4) reflects that exemption.
Employers are not required to pay for everyday clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts, long pants, street shoes, and normal work boots. This exception applies even when the employer requires employees to use these items, and the clothing provides protection from a workplace hazard.
Similarly, employers are not required to pay for ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items used solely for protection from weather, such as:
  • Winter coats, jackets, gloves, parkas;
  • Rubber boots, hats, raincoats; and
  • Ordinary sunglasses and sunscreen.
If ordinary weather gear does not provide sufficient protection and special equipment or extraordinary clothing is needed to protect the employee from unusually severe weather conditions, the employer is required to pay for the protection.
Clothing used to protect employees from artificial heat or cold is not part of this exception. For example, employees working in a freezer warehouse may need heavy coats and the employer is required to pay for this protection.

Revision 6/08 Replacement PPE: 1910.132(h)(5)

Employers must pay for replacement PPE, except when the employee has lost or intentionally damaged the PPE. The new rule does not address how often PPE is to be replaced. Replacement is determined by each standard that requires the PPE.

Revision 6/08 Employee-owned equipment: 1910.132(h)(6)

Where an employee provides adequate protective equipment which he or she owns and brings to the worksite, the employer may allow the employee to use it and is not required to reimburse the employee for that equipment. However, the employer may not require an employee to provide or pay for his or her own PPE, unless there is an exception in the rule.

Revision 6/08 Tools of trade

In some industries, employees traditionally supply their own PPE, especially when the employees frequently move from job to job. This part of the rule recognizes these traditions and does not require employers to pay for PPE in this situation. However:
  • The employee’s use of his or her own PPE must be completely voluntary.
  • The employee can withdraw use of his or her own PPE at any time.
  • If the employer allows an employee to use PPE they already own, the employer is still responsible for making sure the PPE is adequate, properly maintained, and sanitary, under the applicable PPE standard.

Revision 6/08 Enforcement deadline: 1910.132(h)(7)

The last provision in the rule provides an enforcement deadline for employers to change their existing PPE payment policies. The rule went into effect on February 13, 2008 and the PPE payment requirements must be implemented no later than May 15, 2008.

Hazard Assessment and Employee Training §1910.132 (d), (e), (f)

In April of 1994 OSHA issued a rule updating the PPE standard to reflect current technology and improvements in personal protective equipment and to add provisions requiring employers to assess their workplaces for hazards and train their employees in the use of the protective equipment. OSHA estimates that the new standard will provide improved protection in 1.1 million work establishments covering 11.7 million employees. Upgrades in eye, face, head, foot and new hand requirements became effective July 5, 1994 and hazard assessment and training requirements on October 5, 1994. Guidance in conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace and selecting personal protective equipment is also provided.
The workplace must be assessed to determine if hazards are present which necessitate the use of PPE. The employer must verify that the assessment has been completed through a written certification which identifies the workplace, the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed, the date of the assessment, and a statement which identifies the document as certification of hazard assessment. If it is determined that such hazards are present, the employer must select protective equipment for the employees and communicate the selection decisions to them.

Hazard Assessment

PPE devices alone should not be relied on to provide protection against hazards, but should be used in conjunction with guards, engineering controls, and sound manufacturing practices.
It is necessary to consider certain general guidelines for assessing the foot, head, eye and face, and hand hazard situations that exist in an occupational or educational operation or process, and to match the protective devices to the particular hazard. It should be the responsibility of the safety officer to exercise common sense and appropriate expertise to accomplish these tasks.

Assessment Guidelines

The employer must conduct a walk-through survey of the areas in question to identify sources of hazards to workers. These hazardous situations may include sources of motion; sources of high temperatures; types of chemical exposures; sources of harmful dust or light radiation; sources of falling objects or potential for dropping objects; sources of sharp objects which might pierce the feet or cut the hands and rolling or pinching objects which could crush the feet; the layout of workplace and location of co-workers; and any electrical hazards.
Following the walk-through survey, it is necessary to organize the data to prepare an analysis of the hazards to enable proper selection of protective equipment. The employer should analyze the data on the workplace and estimate the potential for injuries. Each of the basic hazards should be reviewed and a determination made as to the type, level of risk, and seriousness of potential injury from each of the hazards found in the area. The possibility of exposure to several hazards simultaneously should be considered.

Selection Guidelines

After completion of the hazard assessment, the general procedure for selection of protective equipment is to:
  1. Become familiar with the potential hazards and the type of protective equipment that is available, and what it can do;
  2. Compare the hazards associated with the environment;
  3. Select the protective equipment which ensures a level of protection greater than the minimum required to protect employees from the hazards;
  4. Fit the user with the protective device and give instructions on care and use of the PPE. It is very important that the users be made aware of all warning labels for and limitations of their PPE.
Careful consideration must be given to comfort and fit. PPE that fits poorly will not afford the necessary protection. Continued wearing of the device is more likely if it fits the wearer comfortably and protective devices are generally available in a variety of sizes.
Adjustments should be made on an individual basis for a comfortable fit that will maintain the protective device in the proper position. Particular care should be taken in fitting devices for eye protection against dust and chemical splashes. In addition, proper fitting of helmets is important to ensure that it will not fall off during work operations.
It is the responsibility of the employer or safety officer to reassess the workplace hazard situation as necessary, to identify and evaluate new equipment and processes, to review accident records, and reevaluate the suitability of previously selected PPE.

Employee Training

Employers must provide training for each employee who is required to use personal protective equipment. Training should include when PPE is necessary; what PPE is necessary; how to wear PPE; its limitations; the proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the PPE. Employees must demonstrate an understanding of the training and the ability to use the PPE properly before being allowed to perform work requiring the use of the equipment.
If an employer has reason to believe an employee does not have the understanding or skill required, the employer must retrain. Circumstances where retraining may be required include changes in the workplace or changes in the types of PPE to be used which would render previous training obsolete. Also, inadequacies in an affected employee's knowledge or use of the assigned PPE which indicates that the employee has not retained the necessary understanding or skills. Employers must certify in writing that the employee has received and understands the training.

Cleaning and Maintenance

It is important that all PPE be kept clean and properly maintained. Cleaning is particularly important for eye and face protection where dirty or fogged lenses could impair vision. PPE should be inspected, cleaned, and maintained at regular intervals so that the PPE provides the requisite protection.
It is also important to ensure that contaminated PPE which cannot be decontaminated is disposed of in a manner that protects employees from exposure to hazards.

Popular Posts