OSHA’s Top 10 List of Most Frequently Cited Standards: Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment—Eye and Face Protection
Posted on January 10, 2024 | in EHS
The #9 most frequently cited standard for 2023, was one again Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment—Eye and Face Protection. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers suffered 18,510 eye-related injuries and illnesses in 2020. That means there were roughly 1.7 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. OSHA states thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries. Preventing eye and face injury can be achieved with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection.
There are two personal protective equipment (PPE) standards for eye and face protection put in place by OSHA. One is 29 CFR 1910.133, which concentrates on safety regulations in the general industry, and the other 29 CFR 1926.102 that centers on the constructions industry. Although, they are similar, they have some industry-specific nuances. In this blog, the focus will be on 29 CFR 1926.102.
OSHA’s Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment—Eye and Face Protection (1926.102) Overview
This standard applies to the construction industry. It requires employers to ensure that all their employees use appropriate eye or face protection when they are exposed to eye or face hazards such as:
- Flying Particles
- Molten Metal
- Liquid Chemicals
- Acids or Caustic Liquids
- Chemical Gases or Vapors
- Potentially Injurious Light Radiation
PPE for the eyes and face is designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to your team members when engineering or administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels.
When it comes to PPE, it’s important to make sure your team members are aware what different types of eye and face protection are available to them. They’re properly trained on how to use this equipment, and the PPE fits them correctly and comfortably.
What Are the Top PPE Citations for Eye and Face Protection?
- 1926.102(a)(1)—2,034 violations: “The employer shall ensure each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.”
- 1926.102(a)(2)—32 violations: “The employer shall ensure each affected employee uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects. Detachable side protectors (e.g., clip-on or slide-on side shields) meeting the pertinent requirements of this section are acceptable.”
- 1926.102(b)(1)—6 violations: “Protective eye and face protection devices must comply with any of the following consensus standards.”
- 1926.102(a)(3)—2 violations: “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee who wears prescription lenses while engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.”
Protecting your team members’ eyes and faces is necessary because loss of sight or injury to either is a life-changing event. Many of your members are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environments, making them vulnerable to injury. The use of PPE helps to prevent these life-changing hazards. Although the use of PPE, according to the hierarchy of controls, is viewed as the “last line of defense,” it still helps to keep your team members safe, when selected and used properly.
Tips to Help You Maintain Compliance with OSHA’s PPE Eye and Face Standard
OSHA notes in its updated Personal Protection Equipment Guide that many occupational eye injuries occur because team members are not wearing any eye protection, while others result from wearing improper, inadequate, or poorly fitting eye protection or eye protection without a prescription when the person wears glasses. Be sure that your team members wear appropriate eye and face protection. They know how to select properly fitting the eye and face protection appropriate for the work being performed.
OSHA also recommends management of PPE through a shared effort between employers and employees, to ensure the greatest possible protection for your team members. A team effort will help establish and maintain a safe and healthy work environment.
According to OSHA, employers are responsible for:
- Performing a “hazard assessment” of the workplace to identify and control physical and health hazards
- Identifying and providing appropriate and adequate PPE for employees
- Training employees in the use and care of the PPE
- Maintaining PPE, including replacing worn or damaged PPE
- Periodically reviewing, updating, and evaluating the effectiveness of the PPE program
According to OSHA, team members are responsible for:
- Wearing PPE properly
- Attending training sessions on PPE
- Caring for, cleaning, and maintaining PPE provided to them
- Informing a supervisor of the need to repair or replace PPE
Promoting the use of PPE has many advantages. These advantages include maintaining compliance and avoiding fines and citations, while also encouraging confidence in your team members. Confidence is instilled fist because they know they can safely perform their jobs, and second because they see you investing in their safety. It also helps to improve workplace morale and overall productivity. When your members see that you value and prioritize their health and safety, they feel more valued, experience less stress, and have an overall more positive attitude to the work they do—that should be enough to have an effective PPE management program in place.
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