Envisioning a Safe Future with Eye and Face Protection

Our analysis of 2023's most frequently violated OSHA standards continues with a discussion about eye and face protection safety requirements.

Total operational safety demands eye and face protection. All too many organizations, however, don’t take eye and face protection requirements seriously. So much so that in 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) ninth most violated safety standard was Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1910.133). This statistic underscores the infrequency of adequate precautions for this standard.

Without proper eye and face protection, major accidents are more plausible and worker health and wellbeing is greatly risked. On top of this, OSHA strictly enforces these regulations and penalties for noncompliance can reach $15,625 per violation. For financial, operational, and health and safety reasons, workers and managers should consider face and eye protection a priority—and act accordingly.

Eyes and Face Safety: Crucial

The eyes and face are among the body’s most crucial organs. There is truly no substitution for vision—the sense that enables us to take in the external world and respond to it quickly. This is especially true on worksites where fast response is critical.

Given it hosts the eyes (and mouth and nose), the face is also enormously crucial to human functioning. And, being the most visible part of the body, encapsulating our individual features, it perhaps contributes the most to our sense of selfhood and uniqueness. The face makes each person truly different and any damage to it can be catastrophic to health—both mental and physical.

And just behind the eyes and face lies the brain—the most crucial organ in the human body. When the eyes and face are exposed to danger, the brain is also at risk. It is hard to overstate the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can lead to severe, permanent disability—or even death.

Workplace Dangers to Eyes and Face Abound

Unfortunately, eye and face accidents are all too common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2,000 people suffer from work-related eye injuries every day, and many of these incidents require time away from work.

Head injuries are often caused by similar events as eye accidents and often involve face injury as well. Head injuries account for about 22.5% of “work-related trauma.” There are a variety of causes for these injuries, including:

  • Flying or falling objects
  • Molten metal
  • Chemical vapors
  • Corrosive material
  • Light radiation
  • Dust
  • Accidents from misuse or malfunction of powered industrial trucks or other machinery

Fortunately, it is estimated that 90% of worker eye and face injuries are preventable with the right personal protective equipment (PPE). Below, we’ll review how to create policies that support safety and compliance for eye and face protection.

Saving Face (and Eyes) Via Proper Protection

The employer is obligated to provide all necessary eye and face PPE as well as ensure that each employee who is exposed to eye or face risks dons the appropriate gear and understands its proper use.

All protective gear should be marked with manufacturer information—including the recommended best practices for wearing and using the gear, depending on the wearer’s job role. Other PPE requirements will vary depending on the hazards the employee will encounter, such as:

Overall, all PPE must comply with one of the following three consensus standards:

Compliance with these guidelines—and strict observance of certification level requirements of gear—will help protect workers from:

  • Liquid splashes
  • Radiation
  • Blunt impact
  • Dust
  • Small particles
  • Flames

Stay Safe—Seek a Capable Partner

Not sure what eye and face PPE your operations require? Need support in creating a full, OSHA-compliant safety program, with proper training and professional support? Fortunately, you don’t have to meet this challenge alone. Call in the experts to help with consultation, program design, implementation, and more.

At Triumvirate Environmental, our team of dedicated and knowledgeable consultants are here for you. They can help enable compliance with all relevant regulations—and protect your organization’s crucial workers, the people who make your business run. Contact us today.

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