OSHA Regulations for Eye Protection

What is the OSHA requirement for eye protection for persons scrubbing who wear eyeglasses?  Do they have to put on an additional eye shield or are the glasses sufficient?


Prescription eyeglasses do not provide adequate protection for healthcare workers.  Healthcare workers who wear prescription glass or contacts must wear additional eye protection. 

According to NIOSH many safety goggles or plano (non-prescription) safety glasses fit comfortably over street eyewear and can provide satisfactory protection without impairing the fit of the prescription eyewear. Prescription safety glasses with side protection are available, but do not protect against splashes or droplets as well as goggles. (Eye Protection for Infection Control, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/eye/eye-infectious.html)

According to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard 1910.1030:

  • Masks, Eye Protection, and Face Shields. Masks in combination with eye protection devices, such as goggles or glasses with solid side shields, or chin-length face shields, shall be worn whenever splashes, spray, spatter, or droplets of blood or other potentially infectious materials may be generated and eye, nose, or mouth contamination can be reasonably anticipated. [1910.1030(d)(3)(x)]
  • PPE will be considered "appropriate" only if it does not permit blood or other potentially infectious materials to pass through to or reach the employee's work clothes, street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time which the protective equipment will be used. [1910.1030(d)(3)(i)].

Everyday use of prescription corrective lenses will not provide adequate protection against most occupational eye and face hazards, so employers must make sure that employees with corrective lenses either wear eye protection that incorporates the prescription into the design or wear additional eye protection over their prescription lenses. It is important to ensure that the protective eyewear does not disturb the proper positioning of the prescription lenses so that the employee's vision will not be inhibited or limited. Also, employees who wear contact lenses must wear eye or face PPE when working in hazardous conditions. (http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3151.html)

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