September  2002

     Safe Sense
Workplace Tips

Safe Sight
Enforcing the Use of Eye Protection
by Bill Carson

Daily, your eyes are exposed to an endless bombardment of potentially injurious objects. Among these are flying debris, airborne debris, dusts, chemicals and radiant light. 

Each day, an estimated 2,000 workers suffer eye injuries on the job, which not only robs many of them of their sight, but also costs employers and insurance companies millions of dollars a year. These injuries incur more than $924 million annually in workers’ compensation, and nearly $4 billion in wage and productivity losses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wearing appropriate eye protection when exposed to eye hazards is your primary defense against eye injury. Safety glasses offer protection from flying particles in front of you but do not protect you from other directions. Safety glasses with side shields provide protection from the front and the sides. Goggles with regular ventilation provide protection from flying particles and dusts from various angles.

Eye Protection Available

Consumers have a variety of protection gear from which to choose. Here is a list of websites where you can find out more about eye protection that is available:

Aearo Eye Safety Products:

Ally Industries Inc.:

Safety Gear Depot:

Safety Glass USA:

The various forms of safety glasses and goggles can also be equipped with tinted lenses to reduce light and glare. In order to be classified as safety glasses or goggles, they must be manufactured to standards specified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). There is not a one-size-fits-all standard for every industry, so safety managers must assess what types of safety gear to purchase. All safety glasses and goggles should be ANSI Z87.1 certified for industrial eye protection, with the Z87 mark on the frames or lenses.

Regular street-wear glasses should never be substituted as safety glasses. All operations in the work place should be identified as to the need for eye protection. These would include woodworking operations, nailing, metalworking and the handling of hazardous materials.

Remember these main items regarding eye protection:

•Identify the operations and locations where potential hazards exist;

•Determine the appropriate eye protection for the hazard;

•Provide the eye protection needed; and

•Enforce the wearing of eye protection by all employees exposed to flying objects and potential eye hazards.

You only have one set of eyes. Eye injuries in many cases are permanent, and it is your responsibility as the employer to provide eye protection and enforce the wearing of it. 

Brochures Available on Eye Safety

Prevent Blindness America (PBA) is offering several free resources for safety managers and consumers. The first is a brochure titled Questions on Eye Safety, which discusses types of eye protection and precautions. The second is a brochure that was originally developed by PBA in conjunction with several government agencies in response to the September 11 disaster. Emergency Response and Disaster Recovery - Eye Safety is an information-packed brochure detailing many types of eye safety gear with their industrial applications, as well as general first aid and safety tips. Call 800/331-2020 to order either of these free brochures or visit PBA’s website at



Bill Carson is manager of Mancon LLC of Lake Mary, Fla. He has spent more than 15 years developing, managing and supervising training programs for the building products industry. As a service to SHELTER readers, Mr. Carson is available for your safety questions at 407/330-1698. 



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