May 14, 2024

OSHA's Top 10 Most Cited Violations: Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection


In workplace safety, protecting one of our most precious senses—vision—is paramount. Eye and face protection guard against a range of hazards, from flying debris and chemical splashes to intense light and radiation. As we dive into the ninth installment of our series on OSHA's top 10 most cited standards, we shift our focus to the critical importance of personal protective equipment for the eyes and face. In this blog post, we uncover the significance of eye and face protection, OSHA's standards governing it, common violations, and best practices to ensure every worker's sight is safeguarded in the workplace.

The Crucial Role of Eye and Face Protection:

The eyes and face are particularly vulnerable to a wide array of dangers. From industrial machinery ejecting debris to chemical splashes during handling, the risks to vision and facial integrity are abundant. Eye and face protection serve as vital shields against these hazards, preserving the delicate tissues of the eyes and preventing devastating injuries that can impair vision or cause disfigurement. Understanding the significance of eye and face protection is foundational to fostering a workplace where every worker returns home with their vision intact.

OSHA's Standards for Eye and Face Protection:

To help safeguard workplaces against eye and face hazards, OSHA has established stringent standards outlined in the Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment Standard (29 CFR 1910.133). This comprehensive standard outlines the requirements for the proper selection, use, and maintenance of eye and face protection equipment. A nuanced understanding of these standards is vital for organizations committed to the well-being of their workforce.

Written Eye and Face Protection Program:

OSHA mandates the development and implementation of a written eye and face protection program. This program serves as the blueprint for ensuring a systematic and comprehensive approach to eye and face safety. It demonstrates procedures for assessing workplace hazards, selecting appropriate protective equipment, providing training to workers, and conducting regular inspections and maintenance.

Selection of Protective Equipment:

Employers are obligated to assess workplace hazards to determine the appropriate types of eye and face protection needed. Factors such as the nature and severity of potential hazards, as well as the specific tasks performed by workers, must be taken into account. Proper selection ensures that workers are adequately protected against the risks they face in their respective roles.


Effective training is essential for ensuring that workers understand the importance of eye and face protection and how to use it correctly. OSHA requires employers to provide comprehensive training to their workers on the proper use, maintenance, and limitations of protective equipment. Training should also cover emergency procedures in the event of an eye or face injury, such as how to flush the eyes or seek medical assistance.

Fit Testing and Maintenance:

Proper fitting PPE is critical for ensuring the effectiveness of eye and face protection. Employers must ensure that protective equipment fits each worker properly and comfortably, without compromising the seal or obstructing vision. Fit testing should be conducted initially and whenever a new type of protective equipment is introduced. Additionally, regular maintenance and inspection of eye and face protection are essential to identify and address any defects or damage that could compromise its efficacy.

Common Violations and Their Implications:

Despite OSHA's standards, violations related to eye and face protection persist in workplaces across industries. Identifying these common issues is important for organizations striving to elevate their eye and face safety protocols and avoid potential penalties and liabilities.

Lack of Hazard Assessment:

A recurrent violation involves the failure to assess workplace hazards that could impact the eyes and face. Neglecting hazard assessments not only violates OSHA standards but also leaves workers vulnerable to undetected risks that could result in serious injuries.

Improper Protective Equipment:

Selecting the wrong type of eye and face protection or providing inadequate equipment is a critical violation. Whether due to negligence, cost-cutting measures, or misinformation, this lapse compromises the safety of workers and exposes them to unnecessary risks.

Insufficient Training:

Proper training is essential for ensuring that workers understand how to use protective equipment effectively. Violations related to inadequate or absent training jeopardize worker safety, as individuals may misuse or fail to properly maintain their eye and face protection.

Neglect of Fit Testing and Maintenance:

Fit testing and regular maintenance are essential for ensuring that protective equipment remains effective over time. Violations involving the neglect of fit testing or maintenance undermine the reliability of eye and face protection, leaving workers vulnerable to risk.

Best Practices for Eye and Face Protection:

Organizations concerned with improving their eye and face safety protocol should embrace best practices that elevate their protective programs and leverage tools that help solidify an adequate safety strategy.

Regular Hazard Assessments:

Conduct regular hazard assessments to identify and mitigate risks to the eyes and face. Involve workers in the assessment process to gain valuable insights into potential hazards and develop targeted strategies for protection.

Training Programs:

Provide comprehensive training to employees on the proper use, maintenance, and limitations of eye and face protection. Ensure that training is tailored to the specific hazards and tasks encountered in the workplace and encourage active participation and feedback from employees.

Regular Fit Testing and Maintenance:

Conduct regular fit testing and maintenance of eye and face protection to ensure proper fit and functionality. Establish protocols for inspecting and replacing damaged or defective equipment promptly to maintain optimal protection for workers.

Promote a Culture of Safety:

Foster a culture of safety where eye and face protection are prioritized and valued. Encourage open communication, active participation, and continuous improvement in safety practices to create a workplace where every worker feels safe and supported.

Invest in Advanced Technologies:

Embrace technological advancements in eye and face protection, such as anti-fog coatings, impact-resistant materials, and ergonomic designs. Invest in high-quality protective equipment that offers superior comfort, visibility, and durability to maximize worker safety and satisfaction.

Closing Remarks:

Eye and face protection are vital safeguards against workplace hazards that threaten vision and safety. By following OSHA's standards, addressing common violations, and implementing best practices, organizations can ensure that every worker's eyes and face are shielded from harm. By prioritizing eye and face safety, organizations not only comply with regulations but also demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of their workforce.

About the Author

Addison Moore
Director of Marketing at Contractor Compliance

Addison has spent the last four years learning from and participating in the Health & Safety community. He has travelled to numerous EHS conferences, trade shows and events with the intention of helping organizations with their contractor management programs. Addison is also responsible for curating the collection of white papers, case studies and eBooks that provide real world insights into the workforce safety space.

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