By Jason Doty, Category Analyst – Safety/PPE and Fasteners
There are countless moving parts to a construction job site that increase the chances of experiencing a near miss or suffering from an OSHA-recordable injury. It’s important to clarify and note what safety requirements coincide with job site workers, who is responsible for providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to distinguish what eye and face protection is appropriate for your environment.
According to OSHA, there are thousands of incidents every year that leave people blinded from work-related injuries that were entirely preventable had they been equipped with the proper eye and face protection. To remain OSHA compliant with eye- and face-related safety standards, eye and face personal protective equipment (PPE) must be provided in any case where chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical hazards may be present.
Some hazards to the eyes and face may include, but are not limited to sources of:
- g. tools, machines, heavy lifting, etc.
- High temperatures
- Harmful chemicals
- Light radiation
- g. welding, cutting, furnaces, etc.
- Biological hazards
- g. bodily fluid
Conduct a walkthrough and assessment of the job site to determine whether potential hazards may be a threat to yourself, employees and others, and provide eye and face protection accordingly.
Providing eye and face protection
OSHA requires all employers to provide their employees with proper PPE to protect them from workplace hazards with the potential to cause injury. Not only is the employer responsible for providing the appropriate equipment, but responsibility also rests on them to ensure all efforts are being made to create and maintain a safe environment, including conducting hazard assessments, PPE training and reviewing equipment for effectiveness.
In cases where general contractors/employers have hired on subcontractors to help on the job site, please keep in mind that it is still the employer’s responsibility to provide and pay for their safety equipment. While there may be subcontractors who voluntarily provide their own safety equipment, the employer must ensure that the equipment has been assessed and approved for performance adequacy, otherwise they are held liable for any OSHA-recordable injuries.
Is all eye protection created equally?
The short answer? No, not all eye and face protection is created equally. If you are unsure of what equipment is appropriate for protecting your employees from safety hazards, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a nonprofit organization that conducts testing and creates guidelines for equipment according to respective general and unique job sites.
Specifically for eye protection standards, ANSI Z87.1 certification “prescribes the design, performance specifications, and marking of safety eye and face products, including millions of safety goggles, spectacles, face shields, and welding helmets, worn by workers in thousands of manufacturing and processing facilities, university and research laboratories, and other occupational settings.” This certification indicates that the PPE for a job site has passed the ANSI High Mass Impact Test and the ANSI High Velocity Impact Test.
ANSI Z87.1 requires tested eye safety equipment to have lens and frame markings that are easily recognizable as compliance standards.
- Z87+ – High-velocity impact
- Z87 – Basic impact
- D3 – Splash and droplet protection
- D4 – Dust particle protection
- D5 – Fine dust protection
- W (plus shade number) – Welding protection level
- U (plus scale number) – UV protection level
- R (plus scale number) – Infrared light protection level
- L (plus scale number) – Visible light filter level
- Z87-2 – Prescription eyewear
- H – Designed for smaller head sizes
- V – Photochromic lenses
- S – Special lens tint
Assess your job site and impending work for your employees, so you can properly identify the appropriate eye protection equipment for your team.
Implement safety precautions
With the right tools and testing capabilities, it’s time to be proactive about the safety of your employees. Take all the necessary steps and precautions at your job site to ensure the utmost protection of all hands on deck.