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5 Tips to Comply with Eye and Face Protection Standards

OSHA's Eye and Face Protection Standard says that employees exposed to eye and face hazards such as light radiation, chemicals or flying objects must be provided with eye or face protection. It also sets out criteria for selecting eye and face protection for your employees. This standard is a frequent source of violations. To help you comply with the standard - and protect your employees - follow these 5 tips:

Tip 1. Provide Eye Protection

Eye protection must defend against all angles of attack. For example, employees exposed to flying debris, such as in a metal shop, require gear with side protection. As long as the eye protection meets all other standards, this side protection can be a detachable clip-on or slide-on side shield.

Tip 2. Ensure Compatibility with Prescription Eyewear

Some employees need corrective lens prescriptions. The protective eyewear equipment these employees use must be compatible with these lenses. You have two options:

  • Incorporate the employee's prescription into the lens of the eye protection equipment; or
  • Supply eye protection equipment to be worn over the prescription eyewear.
    In the latter case, make sure that eye protection equipment and prescription lenses are compatible and that neither obstructs the positioning or proper functioning of the other.

Tip 3. Make Sure Protective Eyewear Is Marked

OSHA requires that eye and face protection equipment be marked so that the manufacturer is easily identifiable. This allows the protection to be quickly recognized as meeting certain standards.

Tip 4. Verify that Filtered Lenses Have the Right Shade Number

Certain operations such as welding require the use of filtered lenses to shield the eyes against potentially harmful light radiation. OSHA provides a list of these operations and the appropriate "shade number" filter required in the equipment when performing each operation. Check this list to be sure the eyewear protection provided supplies the proper level of protection for the job. (You can find OSHA's list here.)

Tip 5. Make Sure Eye Protection Meets ANSI Standards

Eye or face protection bought after July 5, 1994 must meet the American National Standard Institute's (ANSI) standard ANSI Z87.I-1989. Before buying eye and face protective equipment, check this standard, entitled "American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection," and make sure the equipment is up to standard. (For more information, visit