A lot of information is available to help investigate the options available for controlling the hazards that are identified in your workspace. Before selecting any options, make certain that you:
- Review sources such as OSHA standards and guidance, any industry consensus standards, publications from source such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), literature from the manufacturers and any available engineering reports that identify any potential control measures.
- Get input from the workers who may be able to assist in the evaluations of potential solutions based up their past experiences and knowledge.
- Contact other sites who perform the same process to determine their solutions.
- Consult with all available health and safety experts including Safety personnel, Occupational Health personnel, Industrial Hygienists...
- For additional information on requirements, refer to TG 006 Vision and Safety Eyewear Guide for U.S. Army Civilian and Military Job Series. This technical guide (TG) provides recommended visual performance standards for work in U.S. Army civilian and military jobs. The TG also recommends eye protection for a job series that has potential for injury to the eye. This TG is not a regulation but reflects best practice guidelines for visual performance and eye safety.
When selecting controls, remember to utilize the Hierarchy of Controls. You should always select controls that are the most feasible, effective, and will stay effective for a long period of time. As you are making these long-term decisions, use of interim controls while developing and implementing longer-term decisions should be a part of the process. When possible, eliminate or replace the hazard. Fi unable, select controls that emphasize engineering solutions first followed by the implementation of safe work practices, administrative controls and finally PPE. It should always be remembered that PPE is considered as the last line of defense when protecting employees from hazards and should never be used as a substitute for the other controls. PPE is considered to be the least effective way to protect workers because it does not eliminate or reduce the hazard and only acts as a barrier between the worker and the hazard.
Hazard types include:
- Impact - flying objects from chipping, grinding, machining, masonry work, work, sawing, drilling, chiseling...
- Harmful dust - from woodworking, buffing...
- Chemical - splash, fumes, vapor and mists that irritate from acid and chemical handling, working with blood...
- Heat - from furnace operations, casting, welding...
- Optical radiation - radiant energy, glare, intense light from welding, torch-cutting, brazing, solders, laser work...
- Ergonomic hazards - from prolonged near work, computer work, repetitive motions of eyes, head and neck... should be considered but may not require PPE
- Environmental hazards - UV exposure, sunlight, rain, snow, dust... should be considered in risk assessments but may not require PPE
You will also want to be assign a Risk Assessment Code as well which rates the severity of the potential injury and the probability of the accident happening.
- Assess items such as possible factors increasing potential severity of injury such as:
- Working at elevation
- Speed involved in the task
- Amount of energy
- Toxicity - the more toxic the more protection necessary
- Age of the worker (Do they need bifocals or readers?)
- Rate the probability of an accident actually happening considering factors such as:
- How often does the exposure occur or how often does the hazard exist?
- How may employees are exposed?
- How far away is the hazard and how close do they need to get to the hazard while working?
- What other factors make the potential for injury more of less likely?
- Factors that increase the probability of injury include:
- Frequency of exposure to the danger point
- Duration of exposure
- Conditions at the time of exposure such as stress levels, fatigue...
- Lack of proper training
- Physical and mental capability of the worker at the time of exposure.
- After the assessment is completed, assign a Risk Assessment Code (RAC). For tasks that require eye protection by law, no matter what the score, eye protection is required. For other items the RAC, especially for serious or critical events although it should be considered for all tasks with a potential for exposing the individual to injury, it is still important to utilize methods to reduce the risk of injury. For military operations, for example, especially as we migrate to the use of modular personal body protection, it is important that a RAC is assigned prior to each mission so that personnel have the required gear to optomize protection. The important thing to remember is that 90 percent of eye injuries could be prevented by using appropriate eye protection. Consider their use at work, at home and during recreational activities.
After first implementing solutions such as engineering and administrative controls that do not necessarily rely on the worker's behavior it important to utilize PPE that are:
- Effective at providing protection from the particular hazard for which they are designed;
- Of safe design and construction for the work to be performed;
- Comfortable enough so that the employee can wear them for the period of time required which increases the likelihood that they will be used as required;
- Easily cleanable and capable of being disinfected; and
- Compliant with regulatory standards. Remember that PPE with the "Z87" stamp does not mean that a particular method of protection is adequate for all situations. The latest ANSI standards and OSHA have more specific types of protection requirements which are dependent of the hazard the worker is exposed to.
For additional information regarding specifics for Eye and Face Protection, OSHA has an eTool available which provides compliance assistance information and aids in the selection of PPE. It can be accessed at OSHA's site: Selecting PPE for the Workplace
Two final items to remember when performing a Hazard Assessment.
1. For military personnel, some situations are exempt from OSHA regulations. OSHA Regulations Section 1960.2(i) states that the term uniquely military equipment, systems, and operations excludes from the scope of the requirement.
- The design of DoD equipment and systems that are unique to the national defense mission, such as military aircraft, ships, submarines, missiles, and missile sites, early warning systems, military space systems, artillery, tanks, and tactical vehicles; and
- Operations that are uniquely military such as field maneuvers, naval operations, military flight operations, associated research test and development activities, and actions required under emergency conditions.
2. The term includes within the scope of the order DoD workplaces and operations comparable to those of industry in the private sector such as:
- Vessel, aircraft, and vehicle repair, overhaul, and modification (except for equipment trials);
- Construction; supply services; civil engineering or public works; and
- Medical services; and office work.
In short, this means that any operation performed by military personnel that is also performed by civilian entities is not exempt from OSHA regulations and, for those that are exempt because they are military specific, the command is still responsible for performing a risk assessment and doing their best to provide protection for the personnel. Also, if you look at all current regulations, a risk assessment should be performed for all exempted military situations and PPE should still be considered whenever feasible.
For information regarding specific types of eye and face PPE go to the page Personal Protective Equipment - Eye Protection Types for general information on the various types of eye and face protection available.
For military spectific information, go to Personal Protective Equipment - Military Eye Protection.
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