Eye and Face Protection

Selecting the most suitable eye and face protection should take into consideration the following elements:

  • Ability to protect against specific workplace hazards
  • Should fit properly and be reasonably comfortable to wear
  • Should provide unrestricted vision and movement
  • Should be durable and cleanable
  • Should allow unrestricted functioning of any other required PPE

Protective eye and face wear must comply with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard  Z87.1-1989 or later.

What Types of Eye and Face Protection Are Available?

Some of the most common types of eye and face protection include:

Safety Glasses Safety glasses have safety frames constructed of metal or plastic and impact-resistant lenses.  Side protection is required.
Must comply with ANSI standard Z87.1
Chemical Splash Goggles Tight fitting eye protection that completely covers the eyes, eye sockets and facial area surrounding the eyes.  Provides protection from impact, dust and splashes.  Must comply with ANSI standard Z87.1
Dust Goggles Dust goggles, sometimes called direct ventilated goggles, are tight fitting eye protection designed to resist the passage of large particles into the goggles. 
Must comply with ANSI standard Z87.1
Fluid Resistant Shields These shields are fluid resistant or impervious and provide splash protection from biological material, such as human or non-human primate body fluids.
These shields do not provide protection against chemicals or impact hazards and do not comply with ANSI Z87.1
Face Shields These shields extend from the eyebrows to below the chin and across the width of the employee’s head.  Face shields protect against potential splashes or sprays of hazardous liquids.  When worn for protection against UV, must be specifically designed to protect the face and eyes from hazardous radiation.
When used for chemical protection or UV protection, must comply with ANSI standard Z87.1.
Laser Eyewear Protective eyewear is required for Class 3 and 4 laser use where irradiation of the eye is possible. Such eyewear should be used only at the wavelength and energy/power for which it is intended.  Contact the Laser Safety Officer at x6271 for information.
Welding Shields Constructed of vulcanized fiber or fiberglass and fitted with a filtered lens, welding shields protect eyes from burns caused by infrared or intense radiant light; they also protect both the eyes and the face from flying sparks, metal splatter and slag chips produced during welding, brazing, soldering and cutting operations.  For more information, see the OSHA Eye Protection During Welding Fact Sheet.

What Type of Eye Protection Should I Wear for Various Hazards?

Chemicals Hazardous* dry chemicals and small amounts of hazardous liquid chemicals Safety glasses Eye protection is required when working with chemicals on the bench or in a fume hood
  Hazardous* chemicals that pose a splash hazard Chemical splash goggles  
  Cryogenic liquids Chemical splash goggles and a face shield  
  Highly reactive or explosive materials Chemical splash goggles and a face shield Blast shield recommended
  Pyrophoric solids or liquids Chemicals splash goggles  
Biological Material Potentially infectious materials, including BSL2 microorganisms and viruses, human and non-human primate material, outside of a biosafety cabinet Safety glasses plus mask or face shield Eye protection is typically not required when working in a biosafety cabinet, except if other hazardous materials are being handled in the lab. Eye protection may be needed when removing items from the biosafety cabinet.
Radiation Unsealed radioactive materials, liquid or powder Safety glasses  
  Lasers Eyewear is dependent on wavelength and energy/power of laser Contact Laser Safety Officer at 8-6271
  Open ultraviolet light source Face shield with UV protection  
  Infrared emitting equipment Shaded goggles  
Machining and Physical Hazards Soldering, spatter of flux or hot metal Safety glasses or chemical splash goggles  
  Furnaces, molten metal or glass, heat, sparks, glare Dust goggles, reflectivce face shield  
  Chips, particles, dust, glass shards Safety glasses  
  Glassware under pressure Safety glasses or chemical splash goggles  
  Cutting/connecting glass tubing Safety glasses  
  Welding and brazing operations See OSHA Factsheet - Eye Protection During Welding  
  Changing out compressed gas cylinders, affixing regulator to cylinder Safety glasses  
  Use of compressed air for cleaning equipment Dust goggles Use of compressed air for personal cleaning is prohibited

*Hazardous chemicals pose a wide range of health hazards (such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (such as flammability, corrosion, and reactivity).

Are Contact Lenses Permissible to Wear in Hazardous Environments?

Studies have shown that contact lenses are safe to wear in most hazardous environments. However, they do not offer any eye protection. If an exposure to a hazardous substance occurs while wearing contact lenses, remove the lens immediately while rinsing the eye(s). Contact lenses that have been contaminated with a chemical must be discarded.

What Options Are Available for Eye Protection if I Wear Prescription Glasses?

Most prescription glasses do not meet the ANSI Z87.1 requirements for eye and face protection. If you wear corrective glasses, you can purchase safety glasses that are designed to be worn over your eyeglasses or you can purchase ANSI-rated prescription safety glasses at a discounted price through the Princeton University Safety Eyewear Program. Print and complete the Prescription Eyewear Form.pdf and waiver and bring it with you to any LensCrafters, Sears Optical, or participating Pearl Vision locations.