Safety Leader

Toolbox Talk: Keeping Eyes Safe

Toolbox Talk is a series of informational guides designed to help contractors hold short safety meetings on the job site.
Use the provided discussion questions to help start a safety conversation.

Your eyes are one of your most important tools; without them, you would not be able to earn a living. The most important factor to remember when choosing the correct eye protection is that any lens used must meet the minimum standards for protection. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Washington, D.C., requires that approved lenses be marked by the manufacturer with Z87, the minimum level of protection. However, this is only the first step.

Remember that when working on electrical lines, an electrical hazard analysis will need to be performed. Make sure that any eye wear used, including face shields, safety glasses or goggles, matches the hazard-risk level. 

When choosing eye protection, factor in what work is being done. Many types of eye protection use approved lenses, but the kind used must be based on the hazards that will be encountered on the job site. Below are some of the most common choices.

Safety Glasses

  • Made with safety frames with ANSI Z87.1 glass or plastic lenses as well as temple and side shields
  • Provide minimal protection, so they are best used in situations with minimal amounts of particles and limited impact, including carpentry, woodworking, grinding and scaling

Goggles

  • Can be made with vinyl frames with a soft, flexible body and a clear or tinted ANSI-approved lens, usually plastic
  • Are typically stronger than safety glasses
  • Can be used over prescription glasses for protection with corrected vision
  • Are to be used for higher-impact, greater particulate and chemical splash protection
  • Appropriate tasks include sawing, chipping, grinding, masonry work, using a nail gun and working with chemicals

Face shields

  • Consist of adjustable headgear and a shield of tinted or transparent plastic or wire mesh that extends over the face
  • Are to be used for the highest-impact danger
  • Should be used to protect the whole face against flying particles, metal sparks and chemical or biological splashes
  • Should always be used over safety glasses or goggles, since particles or chemicals can go around the faceshield
  • Best used for spraying, chipping, grinding, chemical splashes and blood-borne hazards

  • DO wear eye protection when there is the slightest chance of injury
  • DON’T work in dusty environments without eye protection
  • DON’T work outdoors for long periods without sunglasses
  • DO always wear goggles when striking hardened tools against
  • metal surfaces
  • DO wear goggles around flying chips or particles, chemical gases or vapors, liquid chemicals and dust
  • DO always keep sharp or pointed objects away from the eyes
  • and face
  • DO replace cracked, pitted or damaged lenses as soon as possible
  • DO wear a sweat band or a cool rag inside your hard hat, unless the electrical hazard analysis indicates this will pose an additional hazard
  • DON’T remove protective eye wear until you leave a work site or are out of the hazard zone
  • DON’T take safety eyewear off, even if your task is complete, UNTIL you check the surrounding area for hazards
  • DO buy lenses with anti-fog coating applied during manufacturing or regularly use an anti-fog solution

Discussion questions

  • What type of eye protection is best to wear when using a table saw?
  • Why shouldn’t you remove protective eyewear until you leave a work site?
  • When wearing a faceshield, why is it necessary to also wear goggles or safety glasses?

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