OSHA Proposes Eye & Face Protection Standard Updates

OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register declaring its intent to update eye and face protection standards to incorporate the latest edition of ANSI consensus standards. OSHA also proposed to change language in the construction eye and face protection standard to make it consistent with the general industry and maritime standards.

“National consensus standards, such as ANSI, reflect the overall consensus of the professionals who work at all levels of the public and private sectors in technology development, safety and health, manufacturing, training, financial analysis, personnel, academia and also reflect insight from the final end user,” says ASSE President Patricia Ennis, CSP, ARM. “This balanced perspective enables the crafting of standards in a way that benefits and protects users of the standard. The impact is safer and more healthful workplaces.”

OSHA says the latest ANSI standards issued in 2010 offer significant improvements over the older versions by focusing on hazards (e.g., impact, splash, dust, radiation) and specifying the appropriate equipment to protect against these hazards. Earlier versions focused on the type of protective equipment, such as goggles, faceshields or welding hats. The provisions will allow employers to use eye and face protection that complies with any of the three most recent editions of the standard (1998, 2003, 2010). The agency does not expect the change to cause a significant compliance burden for employers. Interested parties have until April 13, 2015, to submit comments on the proposal (reference Docket No. OSHA-2014-0024).

Some tips to protect against eye hazards in the workplace:

  1. Identify the primary eye hazards at the site. These can include falling or flying objects, chemicals, dust, heat and radiation or laser exposure.
  2. Select appropriate protective equipment for the hazards present, and ensure that workers use it regularly and correctly. Ensure that equipment complies with the ANSI standards referenced in OSHA’s eye and face protection standard.
  3. Where workers could be exposed to corrosive chemicals, ensure that eyewash stations are available and that workers know where they are located and how to use them.
  4. If employees who require eye protection wear corrective lenses, ensure that their eye protection includes the prescription or that their prescription lenses (glasses or contacts) can safely be work under the eye protection.
  5. Conduct regular vision testing, as uncorrected vision can cause incidents.

Read more about this rule and Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month at BLR.