Eye and Face Protection
This section has been reviewed and updated as needed: April 2014
Required for Students and Instructors
University policy on eye and face protection is derived from two items of legislation enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly. The first act: “Policy for Eye and Face Protection,” passed in 1969, requires that eye protective devices be worn by students and instructors in shops and laboratories where work involves:
- Hot solids, liquids, or molten metals
- Milling, sawing, turning, shaping, cutting, or stamping of any solid materials
- Heat treatment, tempering, or kiln firing of any metal or other materials
- Gas or electric arc welding
- Repair or servicing of any vehicle
- Caustic or explosive chemicals or materials
Eye protective devices are to be worn at all times while participating in any of the above programs and shall be furnished free of charge to the student and instructor.
Required for Visitors
This act also provides that Visitors to such shops and laboratories shall be furnished with and required to wear eye safety devices while such programs are in progress.
Required for Employees
The second item of legislation, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina (OSHANC) became applicable to the University as of August 1, 1974. OSHANC states that:
Protective eye and face equipment shall be required where there is a reasonable probability of injury that can be prevented by such equipment. In such cases, employers shall make conveniently available a type of protector suitable for the work to be performed, and employees shall use such protectors. No unprotected person shall knowingly be subjected to a hazardous environmental condition. Suitable eye protectors shall be provided where machines or operations present the hazards of flying objects, glare, liquids, injurious radiation, or a combination of these hazards.
Rules for Wearing Eye Protection
- Eye protective devices must be worn in all laboratories at all times.
- Goggles, or safety glasses plus face shield, must be worn in all laboratories when work involving splash hazard is in progress (when hot liquids, or flammable, corrosive or caustic chemicals are being used).
- The responsibility for the decision not to require the wearing of eye protection during a particular laboratory session lies with the faculty member in charge of the laboratory operation. But a declaration of a “no splash hazard” period is not “continuing.”
- Where there is an explosive (or implosive) hazard, eye and face protective devices must be worn.
- The above rules apply equally to employees, students, and visitors.
Rules for Shops
Eye protective devices must be worn when hazardous operations, including operation of power tools, pouring of molten metal, welding, soldering, etc., are in progress. The wearing of safety glasses in shops at all times is encouraged. This rule applies to employees, students, and visitors.
Rules for Maintenance & Construction
Eye protective devices must be worn by all employees operating power tools and during hammering, chipping, and cutting operations. Eye protection is also required for other persons exposed within the area of these operations.
The North Carolina legislation specifies that eye and face protective devices, which include spectacles, goggles, and face shields, shall comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) F87.1-1979 and later revisions thereof. All eye and face protective devices currently on State Contract meet ANSI standards. Only devices meeting these standards will be stocked by the Materials Management and Distribution Division Storerooms.
Selection of appropriate devices based on hazard
The type of device required would depend on the nature of the hazard and the frequency with which it is encountered. There are three basic types of eye protection which will meet the majority of University maintenance, shop, and laboratory requirements. These are: safety spectacles (with or without side shields), dust goggles, and chemical or splash goggles. Each of these meets the basic eye protection standards for frontal exposure to flying particles.
Safety glasses with side shields, or goggles, are required if flying particles are likely to enter at an angle, and are usually required where two or more people are working in close proximity. Safety glasses with permanently attached side shields, or dust goggles, will provide this protection. Clip-on side shields do not meet ANSI standards.
Safety splash goggles are required to provide protection against corrosive or hot liquids or fine particles capable of penetrating the ventilation holes in dust goggles, (See recommended Laboratory Rules covered in this statement for additional information.)
Selection based on frequency of use – dust goggles
Dust goggles are the least expensive approved eye protection devices available, fit most head sizes and facial shapes, and may be worn over ordinary glasses. They are recommended for visitors, employees, and students who require eye protection periodically for short durations (less than two hours per day).
Safety glasses are generally more comfortable than goggles and are therefore recommended for employees and students who require eye protection frequently and/or for long durations (more than two hours per day).
Three dimensions that are important in providing a comfortable fit include temple length, nose bridge width, and lens diameter. Safety glasses with side shields, bendable temples, and universal nose bridges are available in three lens diameters through the Scientific Storeroom and/or the Chemistry Storeroom. These adjustable glasses are recommended for loaning to students and staff who require eye protection for instructional activities of one semester or less. (See Section 2-18: Eye Protection Program for Laboratories, for more details.)
Safety glasses which are professionally measured and fitted to the individual are recommended for permanent employees whose job duties require frequent eye protection. These specially fitted glasses, with or without side shields are available through the Optometric Eye Care and MidSouth Optical Corp. (See Section 2-17: Obtaining Fitted Safety Glasses.)
Prescription safety glasses
Several years ago, the Federal Food and Drug Administration passed regulations requiring impact-resistant lenses for all eye wear. Although these lenses are a marked improvement over the old style lenses which were likely to splinter on impact, they do not meet ANSI standards for industrial quality safety spectacles. Therefore, prescription safety glasses are recommended for employees wearing glasses who require eye protection frequently and/or for long durations (more than two hours per day). Prescription glasses with or without side shields are available through the University Opticians. (See Section 2-17.)
Special eye protection
Detailed information on eye protection requirements is available from the Environment, Health and Safety Office (919-962-5507) for the following hazards:
- Welding and brazing operations
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Ionizing particulate radiation
Photogray lenses are not approved for indoor use because the percentage of light transmitted under normal room light conditions is below ANSI standards. Photogray lenses will only be provided for employees needing eye protection whose job assignments are largely out-of-doors.
The National Society for the Prevention of Blindness strongly advises that the use of contact lenses of any type by industrial employees while at work be prohibited, except in rare instances. The Society recommends that any exceptions be verified in writing by the physician or optometrist who sanctions such use in a specific industrial environment. Contact lenses do not protect the portion of the cornea they cover; furthermore, dissolved vapors, liquids, and dust particles tend to creep behind the lens.
Face shields do not meet eye protection standards and are only for face protection. Appropriate eye protection devices must be worn under the face shield.
Cost, Care, and Reclamation
The University is committed to a policy of providing eye and face protective devices without cost to employees, students, and visitors. Each department is responsible for the funding of its eye and face protection program.
Scheduling and payment for eye examinations to obtain prescriptions for safety glasses are the responsibility of the employee and/or student.
Return of protective devices
Eye protective devices issued to employees, students, and visitors remain the property of the University and are to be returned when the use of the devices is no longer necessary. For students this will normally be at the end of each semester and for employees it will be on termination of employment or change in duties where eye protection is no longer required. The disposition of prescription glasses shall be determined by the department.
Replacement of damaged devices
Glasses damaged during normal wear and use may be replaced without charge to the employee or student at the discretion of the department head or designated administrative officer.
Replacing lost devices
Replacement of lost or stolen devices will be the responsibility of the employee or student to whom they were issued.
Eye protective devices are personal items and should be issued for the exclusive use of each individual. Materials for cleaning eye and face protective devices are available through the Scientific and Chemistry Storerooms and are to be made available to employees and students by each department.
Disinfection before reissuance
Eye protective devices must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before being issued to another person. Information on procedures for disinfection is available from the Environment, Health and Safety Office (919-962-5507).
Eye wash facilities
Every laboratory or work place using caustic and/or corrosive chemicals shall be equipped with emergency eye wash facilities.
First aid – Chemical Burns
When the eye has received chemical irritation, the preferred first aid is to flood the eye with water immediately for at least 15 minutes and then seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Neutralizers or other medication should be used only on the advice, or under the direction, of a physician.