Personal Protective Equipment
When a workplace hazard assessment shows that employees may encounter injury to the eyes or face, campus management and supervisors should explore all possible engineering and work practice controls to eliminate hazards. If these hazards cannot be eliminated through engineering and work practice controls, supervisors must require that the employees use appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) to provide additional protection.
Potential hazards include, but are not limited to, flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, potentially infected material or potentially harmful light radiation. See the hazard assessments section on our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) webpage for information about conducting a hazard assessment.
Protective equipment for the eyes and face commonly includes:
- Safety glasses – Protective eyeglasses with impact-resistant lenses and safety frames constructed of metal or plastic.
- Goggles – Tight-fitting eye protection that completely cover the eyes, eye sockets and the facial area immediately surrounding the eyes. Provides protection from impact, dust and splashes.
- Welding shields – Constructed of vulcanized fiber or fiberglass and fitted with a filtered lens, welding shields protect eyes from burns caused by infrared or intense radiant light; they also protect both the eyes and face from flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips produced during welding, brazing, soldering and cutting operations.
- Laser safety goggles – Provides protection from laser light.
- Face shields – Headgear providing a transparent sheet of plastic covering the entire face. They protect against nuisance dusts and potential splashes or sprays of hazardous liquids but will not provide adequate protection against impact hazards.
The following chart shows some common workplace activities performed by university employees and the proper eye and face protection equipment needed for each activity (subject to specific hazard assessment). The chart is followed by links to some of the many resources available to assist with appropriate selection of eye and face protection. Contact your supervisor and/or safety coordinator for more information about the selection of eye and face protection for these and other work activities.
|Acetylene welding||Sparks, optical radiation, flying particles||Welding goggles or welding helmet worn over safety glasses with side shields.|
|Chemical handling, laboratory operations||Chemical splash or spill, acid burns, fumes, glass breakage||Chemical goggles. Use a face shield plus chemical goggles for severe exposure.|
|Cutting, brazing, soldering||Sparks, optical radiation, flying particles, flash burns||Safety glasses with shaded lenses or welding shield. Use face shield plus safety glasses for severe exposure.|
|Electric arc welding||Sparks, optical radiation, flying particles||Welding shield or welding helmet worn over safety glasses with side shields.|
|Grinding, sawing||Flying particles, dust||Impact goggles or safety glasses with side shields. Use a face shield plus impact goggles or safety glasses for severe exposure.|
|Laser operations||Reflected or direct laser beam impact||Narrow or broad spectrum laser spectacles or goggles.Selection is based on type of laser.|
|Machining||Flying particles, mists, vapors||Safety glasses with side shields or goggles.|
|Medical examinations, first aid procedures||Contact with body fluids/bloodborne pathogens||Safety glasses with solid side shields. Use safety goggles or face shield plus goggles for severe exposure.|
|Pesticide/fertilizer application with hand sprayer||Chemical splash or spill, airborne chemicals||Chemical goggles or safety glasses. Use face shield plus safety glasses/goggles for severe exposure.|
Chart courtesy State of Wisconsin Department of Administration
PPE selection resources
Appendix B of OSHA’s PPE standard for general industry has an Eye and Face Protection Selection Chart under item 8.
Areas and personnel affected
Listed below are areas and personnel most likely to need eye and face protection, but this list is far from complete. Anyone exposed to a workplace hazard that could injure the eyes or face needs to be protected from that hazard.
- Art studios (staff and students)
- Physical plant/facilities staff
- Auxiliaries staff
- Custodial staff
- Laboratory personnel (staff and students)
- Wood shops
- Machine shops
- Welding, cutting and brazing operations
The list of occupations from Appendix B of OSHA’s PPE standard for general industry should be considered. Their list (item 8, Selection guidelines for eye and face protection) includes: “carpenters, electricians, machinists, mechanics and repairers, millwrights, plumbers and pipe fitters, sheet metal workers and tinsmiths, assemblers, sanders, grinding machine operators, lathe and milling machine operators, sawyers, welders, laborers, chemical process operators and handlers, and timber cutting and logging workers.”
Training and employee information
Employees must get information and training that enable them to be apprised of the hazards present in their work, and to understand the correct use of personal protective equipment. The minimal training requirements are in 29 CFR 1910.132(f). In summary, campuses must train each employee who must use PPE to know and demonstrate the following items prior to using the PPE :
- When PPE is necessary.
- What PPE is necessary.
- How to properly put on (don), take off (doff), adjust and wear the PPE.
- The limitations of the PPE.
Additional training or retraining of employees needs to be done when a previously trained employee is not demonstrating the proper understanding and skill level in the use of PPE, or when there are changes in the workplace or in the type of required PPE that make prior training obsolete.
Regulations, interpretations and standards
In addition to the following regulations, the OSHA regulations state that eye and face protective devices must comply with certain consensus standard (see section on Consensus Standards below).
29 CFR 1910.132 – General requirements – Includes the hazard assessment and training requirements.
29 CFR 1910, Subpart I, Appendix B – Non-mandatory compliance guidelines for hazard assessment and personal protective equipment selection
OSHA Letters of Interpretation
There are numerous OSHA letters of interpretation concerning personal protective equipment. Go to the OSHA Standards Interpretation page for General Industry and you can search by keyword, or by regulatory section (PPE regulations in Subpart I appear in 1910.132–1910.138).
OSHA Directive CPL 02-01-050. 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart I, Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry.
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services
The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) adopted OSHA’s Subpart I Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards, and other PPE requirements in other specific standards, as the rule for public employees in Wisconsin. No modifications or amendments have been adopted.
The OSHA regulations state that eye and face protection devices must comply with any of the following three consensus standards:
- ANSI Z87.1-2003, “American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection,” which is incorporated by reference in § 1910.6;
- ANSI Z87.1-1989 (R-1998), “American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection,” which is incorporated by reference in § 1910.6; or
- ANSI Z87.1-1989, “American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection,” which is incorporated by reference in § 1910.6.
Other consensus standards that relate to eye and face protection include:
- ANSI Z136 series, ANSI Laser Safety Standards;
Reference material, files, and websites
General reference material
Eye and Face Protection. OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics (webpage).
Eye and Face Protection eTool. OSHA (webpage).
Guidelines For The Use of Contact Lenses in Industrial Environments. American Optometric Association (webpage).
Contact Lens Use in a Chemical Environment, NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin (Adobe Acrobat document).
Policy on Eye Protection in Labs and Studios; UW-Milwaukee (webpage). UW-Milwaukee’s policy, with FAQ’s and useful links.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements: Eye & Face Protection; Quick Tips Technical Document 125, Grainger Safety.
Safety Goggles: Types, Uses and Cleaning; Quick Tips Technical Document 315, Grainger Safety.
Reference material for this webpage includes the following:
Personal Protective Equipment. OSHA 3151-12R, 2003
Eye and Face Protection. OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics (webpage).
This publication was prepared for environmental, health and safety staff at University of Wisconsin System campuses, to assist in finding resources and information for regulatory compliance. It is not intended to render legal advice.