University Safety and Assurances

Policy on Eye Protection


Lab Person Wearing Safety Goggles

The UWM policy on eye protection is the same as the State of Wisconsin policy on eye protection as defined by Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services regulations SPS 332 Public Employee Safety and Health.

Specifically, SPS 332.15 adopts the OSHA standard for eye protection. The standard is entitled: Eye and Face Protection, 29 CFR 1910.133, and is a subpart of the regulations entitled Personal Protective Equipment. The standard itself is very brief. It is the interpretation of the standard that is most difficult.

Synopsis of OSHA Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1910.133):

General Requirements

  1. The employer shall ensure that 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.

  2. The employer shall ensure that 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Eye and face PPE shall be distinctly marked to facilitate identification of the manufacturer.
  5. The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses equipment with filter lenses that have a shade number appropriate for the work being performed for protection from injurious light radiation.

Laboratories and Studios:

Many governmental agencies and standards organizations have issued interpretations of this standard and the one that is followed by UWM's Department of University Safety and Assurances is the interpretation offered by the American Chemical Society in their publication, Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories (ISBN 0-8412-3864-2).

The ACS states that "...the use of proper eye protection is required of everyone who enters a chemical work area. There is always a need for protection from splashes of toxic and/or corrosive chemicals and flying particles. Safety goggles that protect the top, bottom, front and sides of the eyes are mandatory. Neither spectacles with side shields nor safety glasses with side shields provide adequate protection from chemical splashes, because they do not fit firmly against the skin."

The OSHA Laboratory Safety Standard, a performance-based standard, requires that a "hazard assessment" be performed if there is to be any deviation from the "default" rules.

There are, therefore, two options available to laboratory directors:

  1. Laboratory directors may choose to stick with the default rule by requiring all employees to wear eye protection whenever in the laboratory. There are hundreds of styles of safety eyewear on the market today, so finding a comfortable pair of goggles or other approved safety eyewear for employees and students should not be a problem.


  2. Laboratory directors may prepare and use a Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP; as defined by OSHA/COMM) for each lab. As this is a nationally accepted and legally binding protocol, lab directors are inclined to accept the use of well-developed CHP's in lieu of "one size fits all" plans.

When a lab safety Chemical Hygiene Plan is developed, the workers in each lab have an opportunity to develop customized safety procedures that make the most sense for their operations.

If they want to undertake certain procedures that require goggles, certain procedures that require safety glasses, or certain procedures or even areas of the lab where eyewear is optional, they can do this through the Chemical Hygiene Plan development process. Be aware, however, that the Chemical Hygiene Plan development process is not trivial.

Prescription Safety Glasses:

The State of Wisconsin has a mandatory contract for prescription safety glasses for all State of Wisconsin agencies.  To initiate the process to receive prescription safety glasses, the employee's supervisor must contact to request the prescription safety glasses form. The supervisor should include the name of the employee needing glasses on the request. The authorization for ordering prescription safety glasses form can then be picked up at Engelmann Hall, Room 270.  Employees must then take this form to one of the providers found at

Face Shields:

Face shields alone are not considered adequate eye protection. Face shields do not protect from splashes or impact hazards as well as goggles or protective spectacles.  Safety goggles or glasses shall be worn as primary protection with face shields as secondary protection for further head protection.  The face shield should be wide enough and long enough to protect the face, neck, and ears of the wearer.

Link to NIOSH Bulletin

Other Resources: