Wisconsin's Public Liberal Arts College

Safety Eyewear Program


Environmental Health and Safety

Safety Eyewear Program

University of Wisconsin - Superior, September, 1997


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1,000 eye injuries occur at work daily. The leading causes of the injuries are flying particles (70%) and contact with a hazardous chemical (20%). While protective safety eyewear can prevent most injuries, in 60% of the injuries, the worker is not wearing any eyewear, and 4% of the workers were wearing the wrong type of protective eyewear.

An estimated 90% of all eye injuries are preventable by wearing the correct type of protection. UW-Superior, in an interest of providing employees a safe and healthy workplace has instituted this Protective Eyewear Policy to prevent eye injuries by employees, students and frequenters.

SECTION 1 SCOPE

Protective safety eyewear conforming to ANSI Z87.1 standards must be worn anytime in which there is a spectral hazard, projectile, flying particulate, or chemical splash potential as warranted by the activities. The requirement for protective eyewear for employees is established by the Wis. Administrative code Comm 32/1910.133 Eye and Face Protection standard. Suitable protective eyewear will be provided by UW-Superior to employees without cost. If prescription eyewear is required, the University will pay for the basic level of protection according to the state purchasing contract and applicable bargaining unit agreements.

The requirement for protective eyewear for students of all levels in educational institutions is specified in Wis. Statute 255.30. Instructional staff must require and enforce the use of approved safety eyewear during activities under their control.

The academic departments have the option of providing protective eyewear for their students use or requiring students to purchase protective eyewear at a reasonable cost. Protective eyewear is available for purchase at the University Bookstore.

Specific requirements for protective safety eyewear can also be found in the University Chemical Hygiene Plan, Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan or other department specific written requirements.

SECTION 2 SAFETY EYEWEAR SPECIFICATIONS

All safety eyewear must meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard specifications. If the eyewear meets the specifications, it will be imprinted on the lens and/or frame. Adding side shields to non-approved "every day" eyewear does not provide adequate protection. The type of protective eyewear required is dictated by the conditions (see Section 7 for selection criteria):

  • Safety glasses conforming to the ANSI Z87.1 standard will be worn to protect against projectiles. Safety glasses do not provide adequate chemical splash protection.
  • Impact protection goggles conforming to the ANSI Z87.1 standard have direct ventilation in the sidewalls of the goggles to provide maximum comfort. They may be used only for the protection from projectiles and are a suitable substitute for Safety Glasses. Impact goggles do not provide adequate protection for chemical splash.
  • Chemical splash goggles conforming to the ANSI Z87.1 standard are the only approved safety eyewear for chemical splash. The chemical splash goggle will be worn to protect against all chemical splashes and can be used to provide protection against projectiles. Chemical splash goggles have covered vents to prevent the introduction of liquid within the goggle.
  • Protective face shields conforming to ANSI Z87.1 standards should be worn with safety glasses or goggles. Protective face shields should be worn when chemicals with acute hazards, such as corrosive chemicals, are in use in quantities large enough where a splash could cause skin absorption or damage upon contact with the face.
  • Shading of lens materials that conforms to ANSI Z87.1 Table 1A to provide protection against ultraviolet (UV) and visible light hazards during welding activities. Proper shading of the lens is also required when working with spectral hazards from UV and laser light sources when recommended by the manufacturer of the equipment.

Safety glasses do not provide adequate protection against chemical splashes even if side shields are used. Glasses allow for unprotected areas where they do not fit snugly against the face, particularly above and below the frame. Small splashes landing on the forehead or hair may drip into the eyes resulting in an injury. Therefore, the only approved protection for chemical splashes is chemical splash goggles that fit tightly against the face.

SECTION 3 CONTACT LENSES

The wearing of contact lenses in hazardous locations should be discouraged. Current studies do not reflect a higher degree of eye injuries to individuals who wear contact lenses. However, when the environment exposes the worker or student to chemicals, vapors, splashes, radiant heat, molten metals or a dusty atmosphere, contact lenses should not be worn. The wearing of contact lenses in hazardous locations can result in increased irritation or result in prolonged contact with the surface of the eye because some selected materials may be trapped behind the contact lens. Flushing foreign material out of the eye is much less effective when contact lenses are in place.

Employees or students wearing contact lenses at work or in studios or labs should always wear the recommended safety eyewear and inform their supervisor or instructor of the contact lens use. The instructor or supervisor must keep a list of contact lens wearers to inform emergency responders so the lens can be removed promptly when an eye injury occurs. As an alternative, the outside frame of the safety eye wear can be marked indicating the individual is wearing contact lenses.

Employees who are required to wear safety eyewear who wear contact lenses at work must have a spare set of contacts or prescription safety glasses available at work so they may continue to perform their job when a lens is lost or damaged. Contact lens wearers should remove their lenses immediately when they experience pain, blurred vision, redness or irritation of the eyes.

SECTION 4 EYE WEAR FOR VIDEO DISPLAY TERMINALS (VDTs)

Video display terminals have become a modern workhorse in today's workplace and they are bringing with them their share of workplace problems. The most common effect's VDTs have upon the worker are eye strain and fatigue, much of which is associated with the overall ergonomic workstation design. Modern video displays produce little or no ionizing radiation such as x-rays or non-ionizing radiation such as ultraviolet rays under normal operating conditions. Any radiation produced is far below the levels that could cause any harmful effects to the body or eyes, including cataracts.

The use of VDTs have been associated with eye irritation including red, watery or dry eyes, fatigue, focusing problems, headaches or muscle spasms, and other ergonomic complaints, especially when using the VDT for prolonged periods. An employee who experiences these symptoms should consult with their eye specialist for an evaluation and inform the specialist the frequency and duration of VDT usage. The physician may prescribe special corrective glasses for use at the VDT or special coatings on the lenses as well as changes in the workstation.

The cause of the eye stain should be investigated and corrected. Often, reflections or glare, staring at the VDT screen without blinking, improper monitor height or the lack of rest breaks are the cause of the strain. Taking frequent rest periods, eliminating sources of glare, adjusting the monitor height, and altering the lighting conditions are actions that can be taken at the employee's workstation. If the eye strain continues, the employee should report the problem to his/her supervisor and ask for an ergonomic assessment of the workstation.

SECTION 5 AVAILABILITY OF SAFETY EYEWEAR

Employees

Basic prescription and non-prescription safety eyewear will be provided by the employer at no cost to employees. Non-prescription eyewear may be purchased on the state contracts for laboratory supplies or safety glasses, at the University Bookstore or UW-Superior Stores Department as supplies are available. Eyewear will be replaced as necessary.

For those employees requiring prescription eyewear, the purchase of safety glasses must be made according to the current state contract bulletin for Safety Eyewear. Contact the Purchasing Office for a copy of the contract.

Employees who are required to wear safety eyewear as a part of their job will use the following procedure for the eye examination and/or purchase of prescription safety glasses:

  1. An employee should have a current prescription for eyewear. If the employee has recently had an eye exam for normal prescription eyewear, this prescription can be used for safety glasses. If the employee does not have a current prescription:
    1. If the employee is represented by a bargaining unit, the current contract language will specify who is responsible for the cost of the eye exam.
    2. If the employee is not represented by a bargaining unit, the employer will pay for the cost of one examination every two years if the exam is not covered by the employer provided health program.
  2. The employee completes the order form for the prescription eyewear according to the state contract bulletin.
  3. If the employee is required to wear safety glasses, the employer will provide a basic pair of safety glasses with side shields, including bifocal or trifocals according to the provisions of the State Procurement Contract and the applicable bargaining unit agreements (if any).
  4. The employee will pay the difference in price between the basic pair and any options available by state contract, including designer frames.
  5. Prescription eyewear required by the employer can be replaced at the employer's expense every two years.

Employees who use VDTs for four or more hours per day as a part of their job are encouraged to have an eye exam, especially if they are experiencing eye strain. The employees will use the following procedure for eye examinations and/or the purchase of special glasses or lens coatings for VDT use:

  • If the employee is represented by a bargaining unit, the current contract language will specify who is responsible for the cost of the eye exam.
  • If the employee is not represented by a bargaining unit, the employer will pay for the cost of one examination every two years if the exam is not covered by the employer provided health program.
  • Employees who use VDTs on the job for four or more hours per day and have a written recommendation by their physician for special glasses or coatings for VDT use, may purchase the appropriate eyewear through the state procurement contract.

Each department will provide adequate eye protection for student employees using the same methods used for other employees. Non-prescription safety glasses with side shields and chemical splash goggles can be issued to student employees for the duration of their employment.

Each department may decide whether a student employee will be issued prescription safety eyewear. When the student employee wears normal prescription glasses, chemical splash goggles may be issued as an alternative to prescription safety glasses. Chemical splash goggles will provide adequate protection from most hazards when worn over regular glasses.

Graduate Assistants

Each department will provide adequate eye protection for its Graduate Assistants using the same methods used for other employees. Non-prescription safety glasses with side shields and chemical splash goggles can be issued to Graduate Assistants for the duration of their employment.

Each department may decide whether a Graduate Assistant will be issued prescription safety eyewear. This decision will be made based on the frequency of need and the activity the employee will be conducting. When the Graduate Assistant wears prescription glasses, chemical splash goggles will provide adequate protection from most hazards when worn over regular glasses.

Non-Employee Students and Visitors

The instructional staff must evaluate the potential eye hazards associated with each classroom, shop or laboratory activity to ensure that proper eye protection is used by the staff, students and visitors. The required protective eyewear should be included on the syllabus for the class.

NOTE: It is the student's responsibility to have the protective eyewear available during the classroom activity. The instructor must use his/her judgment to either make alternate eyewear available for temporary use or bar the student from participating in the exercise should the student not have the safety eyewear available for use. The instructor or department policy should be stated in the syllabus. Instructional staff should inspect questionable safety eyewear before allowing its use in the classroom activity.

The Department may require students to purchase approved protective eyewear or provide appropriate safety eyewear for the student's use. As an example, the Department may choose to require the student to purchase approved safety glasses for routine use, and provide goggles on an as needed basis. Eyewear that is to be re-used must be appropriately sanitized between wearers.

The appropriate safety eyewear will be available for purchase at the University Bookstore at a reasonable cost. The student will be informed of the requirements through a notation on the syllabus that will be discussed during the first class meeting.

SECTION 6 MAINTENANCE AND DISINFECTION OF SAFETY EYEWEAR

Lenses that have become scratched, pitted or fogged should be replaced as soon as possible. Frames should be replaced when they are no longer in suitable condition and affect the wearability of the eyewear.

Safety eyewear will be disinfected before it is reissued to another user using the following procedure (or an alternate procedure recommended by the manufacturer):

  1. Clean all surfaces with a detergent and warm water and rinse with water.
  2. Disinfect the eyewear using one of the following methods:
    • Immerse the eyewear for 10 minutes in a disinfectant solution such as a dilute solution of bleach and allow to air dry. (Rinsing would make the disinfection ineffective).
    • Place in a UV disinfection cabinet designed for safety eyewear. Follow manufacture's directions for use.
    • Use a spray disinfectant or other methods designed to disinfect safety eyewear.

SECTION 7 SAFETY EYEWEAR SELECTION CRITERIA

Face Shields

Description: A plastic shield worn over approved goggles or safety glasses to provide protection when contact with the face, mouth or sinus passages is probable. Face shields should not be worn as primary eye protection. The shield should be ANSI Z87.1 approved.

Examples of conditions where face shields should be used:

  • When transferring liquid corrosive chemicals in quantities greater than 10 milliliters.
  • Where human blood or other potentially infectious material can reasonably be expected to be released with sufficient volume or force to cause uncontrolled splatters or sprays.
  • When chemical reactions may generate uncontrollable or excessive heat, product or force.
  • When recommended by the material safety data sheet for a product.
  • During chipping or grinding activities where flying particles may strike the face.

Chemical Splash Goggles

Description: Chemical Splash goggles are equipped with shielded indirect vents (or no vents) in the goggle and must be imprinted with a Z87.1 notation. Goggles must form a seal against the face. The goggles can be worn over most personal glasses and will provide protection against projectiles, chemical splash, mist and spills. Goggles will not protect against high concentrations of gases or vapors. Goggles with perforated sides (direct venting) are not approved as chemical splash goggles and must not be used.

Examples of conditions where chemical splash goggles should be used:

  • Cutting into specimens preserved in formalin.
  • Liquid chemical transfers of greater than a few milliliters (teaspoon).
  • When any corrosive substance is used in any volume or concentration.
  • Where human blood or other potentially infectious material can reasonably be expected to be released with sufficient volume or force to cause uncontrolled splatters or sprays.
  • When recommended by the material safety data sheet for the product.

Safety Glasses with Side shields:

Description: Safety glasses should be equipped with side shields. The glasses must be imprinted with the Z87.1 notation to be considered safety glasses. Safety glasses provide protection from projectiles, such as chips, sparks, dust, or other flying particles. Safety glasses do not fit tightly against the skin and therefore do not provide protection from chemical splash or spills or high concentrations of chemical gases, vapors or mists.

Examples of conditions where safety glasses should be used:

  • During activities where glass can be expected to be broken or other projectiles can be expected.
  • Transfers of small quantities of non-corrosive liquids using manual devices such as pipets and pipet bulbs to make the transfer. This does not include pouring from one container to another.
  • Where human blood or other potential infectious materials are handled in such a manner that eye contact is not probable (i.e. venepuncture).
  • When recommended by the material safety data sheet for the product.
  • Automotive repairs.
  • Chipping and grinding activities.
  • Lawn mowing.

Safety Goggles - Impact Protection (Chipper's or Particulate Goggles) with Direct Venting

Description: Impact protection (chipper's or particulate) goggles are equipped with direct venting (perforated in the cover or body) goggle and must be imprinted with a Z87.1 notation. Goggles must form a seal against the face. The goggles can be worn over most personal glasses and will provide protection only against projectiles. No protection is provided for chemical splash, mist, gases or vapors.

Examples of conditions where particulate-protection goggles should be used:

  • During activities where glass can be expected to be broken or other projectiles can be expected.
  • Cutting grass or using string trimmers.
  • When cutting brush, lumber or wood.
  • Chipping or grinding operations (for severe exposure, a face shield should be worn over the goggles).
  • Machining (for severe exposure, a face shield should be worn over the goggles).
  • Spot welding (tinted lenses are advisable).

Welding Glasses, Goggles and Helmets

Description: Welding glasses, goggles and helmets incorporate a tinted lens into the construction of the eye protection to protect the wearer from the hazards associated with intense UV and visible light created during the welding process. The degree of tinting of the lens will be determined by the type of welding conducted and the intensity of the light. The purpose for the welding eyewear is to provide protection for the eyes, face and ears from radiant energy and flying sparks and weld material but are not designed to protect from chemical splashes or high gas or vapor concentrations. Both the welder and the helper are required to wear the appropriate shade of lens.

Per ANSI Z87.1 standard, the appropriate choices for eye protection from sparks, harmful radiation (UV, visible) and flying particles during welding or furnace operations include:

Operation

Recommended Protection

Acetylene Burning, Cutting, Welding:

Eyecup or Cover-type goggles with tinted lenses

Electric Arc Welding:

Welding helmet over safety glasses

Furnace Operations:

Eyecup or Cover-type goggles with tinted lenses.

Recommended Shade Numbers for Welding Filters

Welding Operation

Suggested
Shade Number*

Shielded Metal-Arc Welding up to 5/32 in electrodes

10

Shielded Metal-Arc Welding 3/15-1/4 inch electrodes

12

Shielded Metal-Arc Welding over 1/4 inch electrodes

14

Gas Metal-Arc Welding (non-ferrous)

11

Gas Metal-Arc Welding (ferrous)

12

Torch Soldering

2

Torch Brazing

3 or 4

Light Cutting, up to one inch

3 or 4

Medium Cutting, 1 - 6 inches

4 or 5

Heavy Cutting, over 6 inches

5 or 6

Gas Welding (light) up to 1/8 inch

4 or 5

Gas Welding (medium) 1/8 to 1/2 inch

5 or 6

Gas Welding (heavy) over 1/2 inch

6 or 8

*The choice of a filter shade may be made based on visual acuity and may vary.

SECTION 8 ASSISTANCE AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

If assistance is needed in selecting the correct type of protective eyewear, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety (EH & S) Manager, extension 8073. Video tapes are available in the EH & S office to use as resources for classroom or employee training.


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