Using the right type of eye and face protection

June 22, 2010
Once you know the hazards, be sure to select the right type of protection.

The type of eye and face protection you select for your employees to use is based on an assessment of the job’s hazards. Once you know the hazards, be sure to select the right type of protection.

Safety spectacles are impact-resistant eyeglasses. They have strong safety frames and impact-resistant lenses. They come with and without side shields. OSHA requires side protection (side shields) when there’s a hazard from flying objects. Some models are designed to fit over regular prescription glasses.

Goggles fit the face to form a protective seal around the eyes. They protect the eyes from impact, dust, splashes, mists, vapors and fumes. Different types of goggles are designed for different types of hazards.


Face shields are protective windows that extend from the brow to below the chin across the entire width of the head. Face shields are secondary protection. Safety goggles or spectacles must be worn under a face shield to provide primary protection. Face shields provide additional protection from impact, chemical splashes or sprays, high temperatures, splashes from molten metal and sparks.

Welding helmets are heat resistant, and they’re fitted with a filtered lens. They provide secondary protection from optical radiation, flying sparks, metal spatter and slag chips produced during welding, cutting and brazing. Safety goggles or spectacles provide the primary eye protection under the welding helmet.

ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010 takes a hazard-based approach

The updated American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protective Devices (ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010) prescribes the design, performance specifications and marking of safety eye and face products, including the safety goggles, spectacles, face shields and welding helmets.
One of the major changes from its predecessor versions is how the standard is organized, with focus on the hazard exposure rather than protector configuration.

“Regardless of protector type, the risk to the wearer remains the same. With the end-user in mind, the Committee agreed early-on that the standard should represent a more hazard-based approach,” said Dan Torgersen, Vice President of Walman Optical (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Chairman of the Z87 Committee.

“This hazard-based approach encourages users and employers to evaluate the specific hazards in their work environment, and to make the selection of appropriate eye and face protection based on this assessment.”

Employee training

Make sure your employees know:

  • When to wear eye protection;
  • What type of eye protection to wear;
  • How to properly put on, adjust and wear eye protection; 
  • The limitations of the eye protection; and 
  • How to take care of the eye protection.
By J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., the nation's leader in risk and regulatory management solutions since 1953.  For more information, visit

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