Protective Eyewear

OSHA Requirements For Safety Glasses

Are you aware of the importance of wearing safety glasses on the job? It’s not only important for protecting your eyes, but it’s also required in the workplace under federal regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA, has been around since the ’70s.

The regulatory body was implemented as a result of the act bearing the same name that was enacted to ensure a standard of safety in the workplace. Employers can be fined for workplace conditions that violate the many OSHA standards that exist.

One of those requirements is the mandating that workers in certain workplace environments must be provided, and wear protective eyewear. However, that eyewear can’t just be a pair of clear glasses. Depending on the hazards that exist within the workplace, the protective eyewear must meet certain safety requirements.

That being said, different varieties of protective eyewear serve different purposes and have specific characteristics dependent on the hazards present.

What Type Of Protective Eyewear Do You Need?

You have quite a few options when it comes to safety glasses and their different features. Some are directly related to meeting OSHA standards and others are simply for personal comfort or style. You’ll want to learn the differences and which types apply to your situation.

  1. Polycarbonate Frames: These frames are very impact resistant because they’re constructed from strong, lightweight plastic. They are often used in industrial and construction settings where durability is critical.
  2. Wraparounds: Just like the name implies— these glasses wrap around your head and extend around the side of your orbital bone for maximum coverage and eye protection. They are often required in sports or other environments such as lawn care, where there is a higher risk of flying debris or objects.
  3. Anti-Fog Safety Lenses: These glasses have a special hydrophobic coating that prevents fogging, making them ideal for use in humid or wet conditions such as water treatment plants.
  4. Clear Protective Eyewear: These provide excellent clarity and visibility, making them universally ideal for use in many different settings. Clear eyewear can also have some additional features such as wraparound frames, impact resistance, and more. Some ideal applications would be airport runways, shooting ranges, and law enforcement.
  5. Mirrored Safety Glasses: These have a reflective coating that helps to reduce glare and eye fatigue. They are often used in outdoor settings such as construction sites or sporting events and driving.

What Work Environments Does OSHA Require Protective Eyewear For?

There are many environments where OSHA requires protective eyewear to be worn. If you are working in construction with belt sanders and bandsaws, for example, you must wear safety glasses. The higher risk of flying debris is behind the rationale to require safety glasses to be worn. However, even without debris, you also have to wear them when working with chemicals or other hazardous materials. It’s not so much about the job itself, or the type of workplace. It’s really about the presence of certain risks.

For example, you could work in the front office of a pest control company and safety glasses would not be required for you in that capacity. However, should you need to be on-site doing a treatment and handling chemicals— you would need to wear safety glasses.

In general, you should always wear safety glasses when there is a potential for eye injury. This includes any time you are working with tools, dangerous substances, or in an environment where flying debris is quite common such as a landscaping job. If you are not sure whether or not safety glasses are required in a particular situation, ask your supervisor or consult the OSHA regulations.

Benefits Of Safety Glasses

There are many benefits to wearing protective eyewear on the job, aside from being in compliance with OSHA standards, including:

  1. Prevention of accidents: Protective eyewear can help prevent serious eye injuries from happening in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is never more true than in this situation.
  2. Reduced severity of eye injuries: You can’t always stop eye injuries from happening. However, wearing protective eyewear can help reduce the severity of the injury possibly saving your vision.
  3. Protection from harmful chemicals and debris: Many workplace activities involve exposure to harmful chemicals or debris that can damage the eyes. Wearing protective eyewear can help shield the eyes from the dangers that arise from splashes and other unexpected incidents.
  4. Improved visibility: Some types of protective eyewear, such as tinted safety glasses, can actually improve visibility in certain work environments such as airport runways.
  5. Enhanced comfort: Many modern styles of protective eyewear are designed for comfort, so you can wear them all day without experiencing any discomfort which can diminish alertness and cause eye fatigue.

Matching Eyewear To Workplace Hazards Is Critical

When working in a hazardous environment, it is important to wear the right protective eyewear. There are many different types of safety glasses available, so it is important to choose a pair that will protect your eyes from the specific hazards present in your work area. Here are some tips for choosing the right pair of safety glasses:

  1. Know the OSHA regulations for eye and face protection. OSHA has specific regulations for eye protection in various work environments. Make sure you become very familiar with these regulations before selecting a pair of safety glasses. If for example, you buy metal glasses and work in a high-voltage environment—you’d be violating OSHA standards—and endangering yourself too.
  2. Consider the type of hazards you will be around. There are different types of safety glasses designed to protect against different hazards. For example, if you will be working with electricity as in the example above, you will need a pair of non-conductive, non-metal safety glasses.
  3. Select a pair of safety glasses that fit properly. Safety glasses themselves can be a hazard—when they don’t fit properly that is. They should fit snugly on your face so they can provide sufficient protection.
  4. Choose safety glasses with the right lens color for your work environment. Different lens colors can provide different levels of protection, visibility, and light filtration in various work conditions. For example, amber lenses help to reduce glare in outdoor work environments while clear lenses are better suited for indoor work environments.
  5. Ask about coatings or tints that can improve comfort and visibility. Some safety glass manufacturers such as our favorite, Wiley X, offer coatings or tints that can reduce fingerprints, increase clarity, and repel water droplets.


We Have The Right Protective Eyewear For Any Workplace

OSHA safety glasses regulations are essential for protecting your eyes on the job. But following the OSHA requirements for one workplace is not always applicable to your situation. You have to find out the unique hazards and limitations of your workplace and buy accordingly.

Contact us today and let one of our expert eyewear associates help you select the right eyewear for your safety.



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