Safety Glasses, Eye Protection & You

Stephanie McCauley

Safety Glasses

Safety Glasses, Eye Protection & You

Welcome to Safe Friday, today we’re going to cover safety glasses, eye safety, and eye protection. Whether you’re an experienced professional, or new on the job, we’re going to offer something for everyone!

Every year thousands of workers injure their eyes or lose their sight, not because proper protection wasn’t available, but because they chose not to use it. Workers must use adequate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially harmful light radiation.

Essentially, exposure is defined as being within a distance of a hazard where injury could predictably occur. In the case of hazards created by flying particles, anyone within 15 feet of the source of the hazard is considered to be at risk, although this distance may increase depending on the hazard. These risks apply to everyone, including management personnel, supervisors, and visitors while they are in a hazardous area. This company provides eye and face personal protective equipment suitable for the work being done, and everyone is required to use it.

Protection will meet the following requirements:

  • Adequately protect against the particular hazard
  • Be reasonably comfortable when worn under working conditions
  • Fit snugly without interfering with your movements or vision
  • Be durable and kept in good repair
  • Easy to clean and disinfect
  • Be clearly marked with manufacturer’s identification, rating limits and precautions

Normal prescription glasses and sunglasses meant for everyday use do not meet the requirements for industrial strength safety glasses and don’t provide adequate protection.

Always wear eye and face protection when performing:

  • Metal-working operations such as grinding, cutting, and machining during fabrication processes
  • All hot-work including gas torch-welding, torch-cutting, brazing, electric stick welding, and wire-feed welding
  • Air-gun or other air-tool operations involving compressed air
  • Woodworking operations using power saws, routers, planers, sanders, lathes, or chippers
  • Operating any power tool, powder actuated tool, or machinery that discharges debris
  • Any power or pressure spray operations
  • Any other general or specialized chemical handling processes where the risk of splash of harmful material is present

Varieties of eye and face protection available include spectacles, goggles, welding goggles, welding helmets and full-face shields.

Note: The National Society for Blindness Prevention recommends that emergency eyewash stations and first aid instructions for eye injuries be placed in all potentially hazardous locations. It is also prudent to keep a bottle of quality eyewash in the first aid kit. Any delay or mistake in dealing with an eye injury could result in permanent damage or loss of sight.

Good vision is an asset we all take for granted. Don’t take any chances; always protect your eyesight.

First Aid for Eye Injuries

Your eyes are vital yet extremely sensitive and delicate organs. Eye injuries can be unbelievably painful; however, the pain pales in comparison to losing your sight due to an accident. It only takes a spark, a tiny piece of metal or a splash of chemical to cause a serious eye injury.

Wearing proper eye or face protection will minimize your chances of eye injuries. If, however, you do injure your eye, first aid treatment must be done with extreme care to prevent infection or further damage. Professional medical attention should always be sought following an eye injury.


  • To treat burns to the eyelid, wash the area with a sterile solution and then apply an antibiotic ointment or a strip of gauze saturated with petroleum jelly
  • To treat a chemical burn to the eye, use an eyewash station for 15 minutes. Keeping the eye open for flushing may be difficult, but it’s necessary. If an eyewash station isn’t available, flush the injured eye immediately and thoroughly with clean water. The longer a chemical remains in the eye, the worse the injury will be
  • For any burns to the eye or area of the eye, seek medical treatment as soon as possible 

Blunt Impact Injuries: A blunt impact injury forces the eye back into its socket, possibly damaging the structures at the front (the eyelid, cornea, and lens) or at the back of the eye (retina, nerves). A severe impact can also break the bones around the eye.

  • Blood leaking into the area around the eye from an impact injury causes a black eye. If a blood vessel on the surface of the eye breaks, the eye will turn red. Initially ice packs may help reduce the swelling and pain of a black eye, and by the second day warm compresses can help the body absorb the excess blood that has accumulated
  • Damage to the inside of the eye is often more serious. Any internal damage to the eye requires the immediate attention of a physician
  • If the skin around the eye has been cut, it may require stitches

Foreign objects: While getting dirt or dust in your eye is irritating, it usually doesn’t cause damage. Generally, such irritants will make your eyes water and the irritant should gather in the tear ducts

  • Gently flush with clean or sterile water. As you flush, roll your eyeball while lifting your eyelid. Any foreign object in your eye must be removed or it can cause damage by scratching or cutting the eye. If a foreign object isn’t easily washed out, get professional medical care
  • If a foreign object has pierced an eye, an ophthalmologist must be consulted immediately for emergency treatment

Take special care to resist the temptation to rub your eyes when they’re irritated; this may cause the irritant to scratch and/or damage the cornea. Inspect your eyewash station frequently to make sure that the station is sanitary and in proper working condition. If working in the field or an area where an eyewash station isn’t readily available, make sure your first aid kit has an eyewash bottle. Make sure you know how to use and apply of the eyewash.

Eyewash Stations

Some worksites require extra eye protection because eye injuries are more likely to happen. Eye injuries are the most common preventable causes of blindness. You can treat many minor eye irritations by flushing the eye with water; however, more serious injuries require immediate medical attention.

  • Emergency eyewash stations are required at workplaces that expose workers to harmful chemicals. Accidents can still happen despite taking proper precautions. Emergency eyewash stations provide immediate decontamination. The first 15 seconds after exposure to a corrosive hazardous chemical are critical
  • Eyewash stations are designed to immediately flush contaminants out of the eyes after exposure. They should be located near high-risk areas and should have the ability to be immediately and easily activated

Washing the Eyes (first aid for chemical splash in the eye):

  1. Flush your eye with clean, lukewarm tap water for at least 20 minutes. Get into the shower and aim a gentle stream of water on the forehead over the affected eye or on the bridge of the nose if both eyes are affected. You can also put your head down and turn it to the side and then hold your affected eye open under a gently running faucet
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water. Thoroughly rinse your hands to be sure no chemical or soap is left on them. Your first goal is to get the chemical off the surface of your eye, but then you need to make sure to remove the chemical from your hands
  3. Remove contact lenses. Take them out if they didn’t come out during the flush
  4. Get emergency medical assistance. After following the above steps, seek emergency care or, if necessary, call 911. Take the chemical container or the name of the chemical with you to the emergency room. If readily available, wear sunglasses because your eyes will be sensitive to light. Protect your eyes while on the way to get help
  • Don’t rub your eye causing further damage. Don’t put anything on your eyes except water or contact lens saline rinse. Don’t use eye drops unless emergency personnel tell you to do so
  • Water doesn’t neutralize contaminants; it only dilutes and washes them away
  • The flushing or rinsing time can be modified if the identity and properties of the chemical are known.
  • A minimum 20-minute flushing period if nature of the contaminant is not known
  • A minimum 5-min. flushing time is recommended for mildly irritating chemicals
  • 20 min. flushing time for non-penetrating corrosives
  • At least 20 min. flushing time for moderate-to-severe irritants
  • At least 60 min. flushing time for penetrating corrosives

Non-penetrating corrosives are chemicals that react with human tissue to form a protective layer which limits the extent of damage. Most acids are non-penetrating corrosives. Penetrating corrosives, alkalis’, hydrofluoric acid and phenol, enter the skin or eyes deeply

Penetrating corrosives require longer water flushing (a minimum of 60 minutes) than non-penetrating corrosives. The total amount of water in self-contained systems should exceed the volume required to deliver water at the recommended flow rates and flushing times

Maintenance of Eyewash Stations: Test your stations weekly, make sure all parts are functioning. Flush water through the system so that contaminants do not accumulate.

Conclusion: In all cases, if irritation persists, repeat the flushing procedure. It’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible after first aid has been given. A physician familiar with procedures for treating chemical contamination of the eyes should be consulted after washing the eyes.

Emergency Eyewash & Showers

Workers who handle hazardous substances run the risk of getting them into their eyes or on their bodies, eyewash stations or showers (or both) must be provided in case this occurs. An eyewash or safety shower is considered a first aid measure, not a preventative one. A JSA will identify the hazards associated with chemical handling and the first-aid measures to use in an emergency.

Factors to be evaluated in a hazard assessment:

  • Chemical properties: The physical state, concentration, pH, and temperature of a chemical
  • Chemical-use patterns: How employees work with chemicals during handling, transfer, use, or disposal, including frequency and duration of use, and quantity of chemicals
  • Training: Evaluate training requirements based on hazard communication, SDS, and the measures employees can take to protect themselves, including PPE. Employees must be trained on the hazards associated with the material, the location of the eyewash and/or shower facilities, and the proper procedure for flushing the eyes and/or skin
  • Work-site conditions: Indoor outdoor sites, protection from freezing, fixed or non-fixed locations, and facility layout
  • Equipment: Plumbed units are preferred where a clean water source is available. Self-contained units are effective where there’s no water source available

Requirements for equipment:

  • Eyewashes: Units must be provided in fixed work areas or stations when a hazard assessment indicates that a worker may be exposed to a substance that can cause permanent tissue damage to the eyes or skin
  • Safety showers: A shower is required at fixed work areas or stations when substantial areas of the worker’s body may be exposed to large quantities of materials that are highly toxic by skin absorption
  • Hand-held drench hoses: A single-headed emergency washing device connected to flexible hoses and used to irrigate and flush the face or other parts of the body
  • Solution/squeeze bottles: Chemical solutions used as substitutes for water must be appropriate for the hazard, properly tested, maintained, and replaced before the expiration date. They can’t be used as a sole means of protection, or as a substitute for plumbed or self-contained equipment

Location of eyewash and/or shower: Generally, the distance from a worker’s location to the device should be less than 10 seconds walking distance. The determining factor is immediate eye irrigation within 10 seconds. The path must be unobstructed and can’t require opening doors or passing through obstacles unless others are present to help the exposed employee

Emergency eyewash and shower use:

  • Flush eye(s) with water for at least fifteen minutes. The eyes must be forcibly held open to wash, and the eyeballs must be rotated so the entire surface area is rinsed
  • To use drench showers, contaminated clothing must be removed immediately, and the skin flushed with water for no less than fifteen minutes. Clothing must be laundered before reuse
  • Always get medical attention regardless of the severity or apparent lack of severity. Explain carefully what chemicals were involved. Review the SDS to determine if any delayed effects are expected

An emergency eyewash station or shower can prevent accidents from becoming serious injuries, or minimize injuries resulting from a chemical accident. Eyewash or shower stations must be clean, sanitary and operating correctly.

We have complete eye protection and safety glasses solutions for all your needs. Call (877) 640-6571 today to speak with one of our highly skilled safety experts.

Please join us next Friday for more safety and compliance tips!

  1. Next Post:
  2. Previous Post:

Get In Touch