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Safety Goggles: Types, Uses and Cleaning

Quick Tips #315

Each day it is estimated that approximately 2,000 eye-related injuries occur in the workplace. There is considerable financial cost related to this statistic, with more than 300 million dollars each year lost in production time, workers compensation and medical expenses. Any worker that has experienced an eye injury is well aware that any amount of money cannot compensate for the loss they have sustained from an eye injury on the job. Not wearing eye protection is the most common cause of eye injuries. Subsequently wearing the wrong kind of eye protection also makes up a large percentage of eye injuries as well.

Most reported eye injuries occur from flying particles and objects. The second most common eye injuries are a result of accidents from chemical splash.

It is not uncommon for workers to use their safety glasses to protect from impact of flying particles and objects. However, workers that use the same type of protection for chemical splash or for protection from vapors, have a false sense of security and are not protected. When the hazard assessment calls for protection from chemical splash or chemical vapor, goggles should be selected. Safety glasses are not effective protection from chemical splash and vapors.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers ensure the safety of their employees by providing adequate eye and face protection whenever necessary. The eyewear should provide appropriate protection from job-specific hazards, fit snug to the wearers face without inhibiting movement or vision, be comfortable to wear, durable and easy to clean or sanitize.

Goggles are designed for protection from specific hazards. Goggles protect eyes and the facial area immediately surrounding the eyes. Goggles provide more protection than safety glasses from impact, dust, liquid splash, optical radiation and high heat hazards. There are three different types of goggles available, direct ventilation, indirect ventilation, and non-vented safety goggles.

Potential hazard What type of protection is needed
Impact injury Safety glasses with sideshield protection, direct vent safety goggles or faceshield* with safety glasses or goggle protection
Dust irritation Direct vent or indirect vented safety goggles
Chemical splash Indirect vent or non-vented safety goggles or faceshield* with indirect vent safety goggle
Optical radiation Specially filtered goggles such as laser eyewear
Heat hazards Safety glasses or safety goggles and faceshield*

Safety Goggles: Types and Uses

Direct vented goggles allow a direct flow of air from the work environment into the goggle. In cases where impact is the hazard and a splash or vapor hazard does not exist then a direct vented goggle can be used as an appropriate level of protection.

Indirect vented goggles provide protection from splash entry by a hooded or covered vent that allows the free movement of air but prevents the direct passage of liquid. The purpose of the indirect venting is to limit or prevent the passage of liquid splash into the goggle. In cases where chemical splash is a hazard, indirect vent goggles should be selected as appropriate protection.

Non-vented goggles have no venting of any kind and offer protection against the passage of dust, mist, liquid and vapors. For applications where chemical vapor* is the hazard a non-vented goggle will be required protection.

*Non-vented goggles are NOT gas-proof goggles in instances where gas-proof goggles are required to be worn, non-vented goggles will not provide adequate protection.

When selecting the appropriate goggle for your workplace hazard you must first perform a workplace hazard assessment to determine if hazards are present.

**Faceshields are considered secondary protection and require the use of primary protection such as protective safety eyewear to protect from hazards to the eyes and face.

With proper training employers can protect their employees from eye injuries in the workplace by knowing how to identify workplace hazards. They can then determine when, where and what type of eye protection is required for a given workplace task.

Safety Goggles: Cleaning, Sanitizing and Storage

Cleaning your safety goggles after use is good lab practice. There are several ways goggles can be cleaned. Since many goggles have special anti-fog lenses, being careful not to scratch or damage these lens coatings can be hard to avoid, especially if you use a wipe to clean or dry the lens. If a re-moistened towelette is preferred for cleaning your eyewear, consider gently wiping or instead of using a wipe, simply rinse the debris from the lens then allow the eyewear to dry naturally. Another option would be an eyewear sanitizing cabinet. PN# 2KMG1 operates with the use of a germicidal bulb and both cabinets use a time-controlled cycle that automatically shuts off when the cycle is completed. Can be used for either goggles and/or safety eyewear.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q.   What standards apply to protective eyewear such as goggles?
A.   ANSI Z87.1-2003 for personal eye and face protection. Specifically, goggles and goggle components are found under ANSI Z87.1-2003-6.2.1 of this standard.
Q.   Can I wear my goggles with my prescription eyewear?
A.   Some goggles will allow prescription eyewear to be worn with them. It depends on size and style of the goggle. We offer an indirect vented goggle that offers an insert for prescriptive lenses.
Q.   What about goggles that offer foam padding, can these be used for a chemical splash application?
A.   No, even if the goggles are an indirect vented goggle, the use of a foam padding or cloth padding around the seal of the goggle should not be considered when working around chemical splash. Chemicals can saturate the foam or cloth padding and cause chemical burns to the skin.
Q.   Does Grainger carry gas proof goggles in their product line?
A.   We do not offer any gas proof goggles in our product line.
Q.   Where can I find more information?
A.   Your local area OSHA office can provide information regarding mandatory requirements for an effective eye protection program. Any on-site consultant can also offer suggestions to eliminating eye hazards and work to help you design an appropriate training program for your workplace.



Quick Tips #192: Hazard Assessment Form

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

(Rev. 1/2012)


Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at

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Please Note:
The content in this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific compliance questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.

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