Face Protection

Face Protection

The eyes and face are subject to injury from many kinds of hazards in all types of industries. Cuts, burns, rashes, blindness and scarring can result from flying particles, molten metal, extreme heat or cold, and chemical contact.

Biological hazards such as splashing or splattering of body fluids can cause infection when contact is made with the eye or face.

Dust and particulate matter can travel long distances with enough force to damage the face and eyes.

Electromagnetic hazards are present when welding, brazing, cutting and torching; visible light, ultraviolet radiation and infrared radiation require careful selection of face protection as does ionizing radiation.

Impact hazards can be found during grinding, chipping, machining, replacing tong dies, cutting the drilling line and other times when a hammer is used to strike something.

Chemical hazards exist when handling liquids or solids, such as when measuring, pouring, mixing drilling mud chemicals or cleaning mud handling equipment.

Thermal hazards such as hot sparks from welding or cutting, and fire and freezing temperatures are all exposures that can seriously damage the face.

Precautions:  When hazards cannot otherwise be eliminated or controlled, personal protective equipment such as face shields and eye protection should be utilized.

The workplace should be analyzed for hazardous exposures.  Upon determining the need for PPE, a written PPE program should be written include the following:

  1. Hazard analysis and description of why PPE is the best control measure; how PPE is selected, maintained and how its use is evaluated.
  2. Training of employees and program review for effectiveness in preventing employee injury or illness.
  3. Properly maintained equipment and guarding can effectively minimize eye and face hazards.
  4. Wherever possible, permanent enclosures or system guarding should be installed rather than relying on face shields.
  5. When personal protection is required, posting signs can help notify and enforce the policy as well as employee training.
  6. Training should include the recognition of eye and face hazards, maintenance and proper use of safety gear and first aid procedures.
  7. Maintenance of PPE is important. A dirty or scratched face shield, for example, can worsen conditions by clouding a worker’s vision. Obscured vision makes any workplace that much more dangerous and may cause workers to choose not to use protective equipment. Properly maintained, cleaned and fitted face and eye protection encourages consistent use, which improves safety.

Based on the type and degree of hazard, face protection can include face shields with safety eyewear worn underneath, welding helmets with face shields of suitable lens shade and full face respirators.  Explosive environments require explosion-proof shielding. When faced with high-temperature exposures, a screened or reflective face shield may be required.

Safety glasses or goggles should always be worn with face shields.  When prescription lenses are required, they should be incorporated into the face protection as prescription safety glasses or prescription respirator inserts.  Many times, injured workers are not those directly performing hazardous work but those who are visiting or “just passing through.” Some eye and face hazards, such as flying particulates or liquid splash, can injure people in adjacent areas.  Protective curtains or area shields can help minimize exposure.  Posting “eye and face protection required” signs and training also reinforces proper safety procedures.