Choosing Safety Glasses, Goggles, and Face Shields


Keeping your eyes safe from harm should be a number one priority on the job site. After all, you only get one set of eyes and even the smallest speck of dust moving at just the right speed and angle can damage them for life. It’s imperative to protect your eyes from any hazard you face – from that renegade dust speck to falling nails, acid spills, or metal filings. To do this, you have to choose the right safety device for not only the job you’re working, but also for your own individual fit requirements.

The Right Tool for the Right Job

You wouldn’t want to drive a screw with a hammer, right? Sure, we’ve all made do with what we’ve had on hand at some point or another, but safety is one area where you really want and need the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Although something like flexible-fitting vented goggles are better than nothing, they still won’t give you the adequate protection you need if you’re doing a task that involves more dangerous work – like arc welding or handling caustic chemicals.

OSHA Required Protection for Specific Tasks

The Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA) actually goes so far as to lay out everything you need to know about protective eyewear in plain language.

  • For example, workers doing heavy grinding need protection against flying particulates and should have either flexible-fitting goggles with regular ventilation or cushioned-fitting, rigid-body goggles.
  • For heavier applications, workers can wear eyecup-type chipping goggles with clear safety lenses, or coverspec-type chipping goggles with clear safety lenses.
  • For severe exposure, OSHA recommends workers wear a face shield with either a plastic or mesh window. OSHA has come up with recommended and authorized personal protective eye and face equipment for every imaginable type of task found in the workplace.

This information can be found in OSHA regulation 1910.132, dealing with general requirements for face PPE; regulation 1910.133, dealing with general industry requirements and regulation 1926.102 dealing specifically, with requirements for tasks found in the construction industry.

Proper Fit Means Proper Function

Fit is just as important as matching the type of PPE you choose to the job you’re working. Without the correct fit, your goggles won’t keep chunks of metal out of your eyes and your face shield won’t protect you from flying wood chips.

  • OSHA recommends a professional fitting by a qualified or skilled individual, but you can generally tell when your equipment isn’t up to the task of keeping you safe.
  • For example, goggles that fit properly should form a seal around the eyes to keep out any bits of debris that may find themselves eager to shred your eyeballs. No seal means you’ve got less of a chance of keeping those peepers protected.
  • A face shield or welding helmet should be fairly rigid and close-fitting, without impeding movement, but not so loose as to come flying off when you move or bend over. Equipment sometimes comes with adjustable features – use any and all adjustments you can to make sure your PPE fits properly and, by virtue of doing so, protects you as much as possible.

A Prescription for Safety

If you’re one of those lucky people who gets to wear prescription eyeglasses, you provide a special challenge when it comes to choosing safety glasses, goggles, and face shields. If you’ve ever tried to wear standard goggles, you know that if you wear your glasses with them, they can fog up or not fit right. Without your glasses, though, you can’t see properly.

Trying to work safely and efficiently while wearing fogged up safety goggles, ill-fitting goggles that ride your glasses, or foregoing your glasses entirely is a serious hazard not only to yourself, but to those around you. Luckily, prescription PPE is available to those who need it. Talk to your eye care specialist about obtaining your prescription and whether or not you need a professional fitting for your protective devices.

all content from Contractor Talk

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