Each eye and face protective device is designed for a particular hazard. In selecting the protection necessary, consider the type and degree of hazard. There are generally four categories of eye and face protection: safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and welding helmets. Safety glasses are the most common and provide impact and penetration protection to the eyes.

The International Safety Equipment Association, or ISEA, has announced that face and eye protection must meet ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010, ANSI Z87.1-2003 or ANSI Z87.1-1989 to be approved protection in industry. Safety glasses have special frames, side shields and lenses that meet the impact requirements necessary for adequate protection. Regular street wear glasses do not meet the impact requirements of these standards and are not to be considered safety glasses.

For more complete protection, goggles are to be utilized. Goggles are manufactured in several styles for specific uses such as protection from dust or particles, light radiation, and also for protection from chemical splashes to the eye. For example, laser safety goggles will protect against the specific wavelength of the laser and be of optical density adequate for the energy involved. Laser goggles shall bear a label identifying the following data: laser wavelength for which use is intended, the optical density of those wavelengths, and the visible light transmission.

Face shields are designed for face protection and should never be considered primary eye protection. They do not meet the impact requirements for use as eye protection. They are to be utilized in most cases in combination with safety glasses or goggles. The face shield protects the face, forehead, and chin from injury from flying particles, molten metal, and sharp objects.

Welding helmets provide necessary protection from potentially injurious light radiation from a welding or cutting arc and from thermal burns. For secondary protection of the eyes, it is necessary to wear approved safety glasses or goggles under the welding helmet. This is especially important when chipping or hammering metal parts with the welding helmet in the lifted position. For protection from potentially injurious light radiation, the correct number shade filter lenses must be utilized. This information is available through filter lens manufacturers as well as in the OSHA standard for personal protective equipment.

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