Safety goggles are an essential tool in certain occupations to prevent or reduce the severity of injuries to the eyes and face. To determine if safety goggles are necessary, employers must first perform a thorough workplace assessment to verify the type of eye protection that is required. If certain eye injury hazards exist, then the use of safety goggles should be mandatory.
When to use Safety Goggles
According to OSHA safety goggles are the preferred type of PPE (personal protective equipment) to use against these hazard types:
Impact Hazards – Most impact hazard injuries occur due to airborne objects and sparks. The debris is often as small as a grain of sand but it can cause serious injury without the proper eye protection. Safety goggles protect against these types of impact hazards because of their high-impact, molded polycarbonate materials.
Heat Hazards – Heat can often affect the eyes and face when an individual is exposed to extreme temperatures. When choosing PPE, be aware of the source and intensity of the heat and the type of injuries that may occur. Safety goggles can protect the eyes from these higher temperatures.
Chemical Hazards – A number of eye injuries can be caused by direct contact with certain chemicals. Injuries like these are often a result of the wrong Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Safety goggles can protect your eyes from many of these hazardous chemicals.
Dust Hazards – Dust can be dangerous to the eyes and is often present during certain woodworking activities. Specific styles of safety goggles, ones that created a protective seal, should be worn to protect your eyes in these situations. Eyecup or cover-type safety goggles are preferred.
Safety Goggle Lenses – Types of Lenses
Most safety goggle lenses are made to resist moderate impact from a variety of debris. The polycarbonate materials give them durability as well as strength. Listed below are the types of safety goggle lenses:
Clear Lenses – Most clear safety goggle lenses are easily removable and can incorporate a prescription. Will not provide protection against optical radiation.
Filtered Lenses – Similar to clear lenses but can protect your eyes against certain optical radiation and intense light.
Special Lenses – Special lenses can be made to protect the user from intense heat depending on the lens shade.
Safety Goggle Frames
Safety goggle frames should have a snug fit around the eyes and face to be effective in hazardous environments. Inadequately fitted goggles will not provide the necessary protection needed in situations where chemicals and fumes are involved. Below is a list of the common safety goggle frame types:
Eyecup Safety Goggles – Are able to cover the eyes completely and are available with direct or indirect ventilation and be manufactured in either rigid or flexible styles.
Covered Safety Goggles – Provide enough space to allow for corrective lenses. Are also available in rigid or flexible styles.
Safety Goggle Ventilation
Many safety goggles are made with integrated ventilation that allows the goggles to breathe without exposing the user to airborne particles, fumes, chemicals, dust, and liquids. Below are the most common types of safety goggle ventilation:
Direct Ventilated Goggles – These types of safety goggles are the most common. They are designed to stop larger particles from entering the mask. They also prevent fogging by allowing direct air circulation.
Indirect Ventilated Goggles – These types of goggles prevent dust, debris, and splash protection with indirect ventilation ports. These hooded ports allow for the circulation of air through small areas above, below, or on the side of the mask.
Non-Vented Goggles – This type of PPE will not allow air circulation but do offer protection against dust, mist, liquid, and chemical vapors that may be present in a work environment. You may want to apply anti fog coating to the lenses. This coating will help keep your goggles clear throughout the day.
OSHA Safety Goggle Requirements
Most safety goggles are manufactured with a number of safety measures in mind. They will usually offer anti-fog, scratch resistant, shatter-proof lenses and ventilation slots. Safety goggles are often made out of a transparent, high-impact, molded polycarbonate material so they are extremely durable. According to OSHA, eye and face protection must comply with the ANSI Z87.1-2003. The following requirements must be met by all safety goggles and PPE:
- Be distinctly marked by the manufacturer
- Provide sufficient protection
- Be of safe design and construction
- Be comfortable
- Have the proper fit
- Be durable
- Can be disinfected
- Can be easily cleaned
Most safety goggles that meet or exceed OSHA standards will carry a stamp indicating “Z-87” compliance on the lens or temple piece.
Determining the type of safety goggles that should be used depends on the hazards in your workplace. More than 2,000 workers are injured per day due to the lack proper eye protection. Of those, 10-20 % will have temporary or permanent vision loss. Experts believe that the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of eye injuries in these types of accidents.