Vision loss and severe eye injuries occur all too often in today’s workplaces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day, about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. Due to the severity and frequency of these injuries, there is no room for shortcuts or excuses when it comes to protecting your eyes on the job.
There are many ways to protect yourself from an eye injury, but safety glasses are the most common, and, arguably, the simplest safeguard for protecting your eyes from injury.
Protecting Your Eyes with Safety Glasses
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards.
- OSHA requires that all eye and face protection comply with the ANSI Z87.1 standard and be marked with “Z87.1.” This marking, which is commonly located somewhere on the frame of the glasses, notifies the wearer that the glasses meet or exceed the test requirements of The American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Your employer will identify what type of eye and face protection for each job task is needed. It is your responsibility to ensure the personal protective equipment is worn when required, maintained in a safe condition, and stored correctly.
- Safety glasses help protect your eyes from objects that can pierce, bruise, scratch, or damage them. They withstand high impacts from work tasks such as drilling, cutting, grinding, using a nail or staple gun, or any other tasks that create flying debris or particles.
- If you wear prescription lenses, you must either wear approved safety glasses containing prescription lenses and frames that meet or exceed the ANSI Z87.1 standard or wear safety goggles over your regular prescription glasses. The safety goggles must also be marked to meet or exceed the Z87.1 standard.
- Safety glasses must have side protectors built into their design when working around flying objects or particles. When not possible, use attachable side shields that comply with the ANSI standard.
There are countless excuses as to why someone may not wear their safety glasses. Comments such as “they are uncomfortable” or “I am only doing this small task that will take just a minute” are dangerous statements. Take the time to wear all required eye and face protection. If you are unsure if your safety glasses meet the requirements, bring them to your supervisor to inspect them.