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Eye Protection: Are safety glasses overkill if you wear a face shield?

Jul 5, 2017 6:56:11 AM / by Quad City Safety

welder wearing a faceshield

Do you need safety eyewear under a face shield?

Robert came into work one early Monday morning, clocked in and grabbed his usual cup o’ joe and headed back to his stall. On his way there, his production manager stopped him and handed him a pair of safety glasses.

He said, “This is overkill, boss. I wear my helmet with face shield when I’m welding and I have for 20 years.”

The thing is, face shields are great at protecting your—ahem—face. What about those baby blues or greens— brown maybe? Anyway, a face shield won’t always protect against those rogue splatters that happen. Flying sparks, metal splatter, slag chips, dust, chemical splash or radiation are just a few examples of every day hazards that can happen on the job.

So, it makes perfect sense to completely cover the eyes with safety glasses and faceshields when there is a potential for something to get in them. And no, closing your eyes for a quick tack doesn’t cut it.


worker eye protection safety video

The Realization

When Robert sat for a minute to have a sandwich he went online to see why the heck he had to add another piece of PPE. He was shocked when he came across an article that said about ¼ of all welding injuries were eye injuries.

He thought about it for a minute and even though for the past 20 years he hasn’t had any major injuries, there were some close calls. He even remembered that one of the old timers he worked with a long time ago had gotten arc eye from UV radiation (UVR). It wasn’t permanent, but he remembered he was out of work for a bit and complained about the pain a lot.

Helmets may help a bit to protect workers from arc eye or welder’s flash, but he thought about all the prep work he did with his shield up. The grinding, hammering and power chipping he did sure did send particles flying.

Then he started reading about how workers within 50 feet of welding activity can sustain eye damage from UVR. There was constant work going on in his department and he thought of how many times he was grabbing something out of his toolbox while one of the other workers was welding.

The problem is that we all become creatures of habit. When we get away doing something for any period of time without getting hurt, we continue to chance it. Sometimes, we don’t even know we are tempting fate, until we get a piece of irrefutable evidence in our face.

 “You’ll shoot your eye out kid!” —Santa


No matter what kind of work you do, protect your eyes first:

Wearing safety glasses or goggles can seriously reduce your risk of injury, even when wearing a face shield or mask. Every day, more than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work!

The best ways to protect your eyes is to know the hazards and how to avoid them. Safety managers should regularly assess job sites and eliminate hazards before employees begin work. This means using engineering controls like machine guarding, screens and lockout tagout.

When you can’t get rid of the hazard, protect against it with the right eye protection for the job.

Or be a part of the over $300 million lost every year in production time, medical expenses and worker compensation. Make sure the safety eye wear meets ANSI Z87.1+ for impact and protection ratings otherwise you may as well be wearing your 3 year old niece’s sunglasses for eye protection.

Foam-sealed eye protection is one way to go, just make sure you don’t use these with chemicals because they can seep through the foam. If you do happen to work with chemicals, a pair of low profile safety goggles is the best way to make sure your eyes are completely covered and sealed from any dangerous materials.

We are all guilty of it. We do our job for so long that we take unnecessary risks, sometimes without even knowing. Robert realized it before he ended up damaging his eyes. And you know something else? He shouldn’t be breathing all that crap either. It may be time for him to invest in a good respirator as well.


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Topics: hazards, Elevator Safety, Facility Safety, Eye Safety, Eye Protection, educational, Eye and Head Protection