The introduction of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) does not change the requirements for the wearing of safety glasses or safety goggles.
The main consideration in school science in relation to eye safety is that a site-specific risk assessment be performed to determine the most appropriate type of eye protection. In most school science situations, wrap-around safety glasses give suitable eye protection unless a school-based risk assessment recommends the use of safety goggles. It is important in schools that the importance of eye protection is effectively communicated and the wearing of appropriate eye protectors is enforced.
The type of eye protection selected should be suitable to the nature of the work for which it is intended and any associated hazards in accordance with AS/NZS 1336-2014 Eye and face protection guidelines. This eye protection should comply with the requirements of AS/NZS 1337 Personal eye protection. Eye protection that meets this standard should have the manufacturers ID and ‘AS1337’ imprinted on the side. Additional markings may include “I” or “F” indicating protection from medium impact or “C” or “3” indicating protection from chemical splash. Safety glasses and safety goggles have different applications.
Safety glasses are an eye protector with protective lenses, most often polycarbonate lenses, mounted in spectacle-type frames, or moulded in one piece with side shields and air vents, and can look like normal spectacles.
Safety glasses are intended to provide eye protection against common laboratory hazards such as chemical and biological splashes and low-impact energy activities. The lenses must be appropriate to the protection required.
Note: while it is possible to obtain prescription safety glasses, normal prescription glasses are not considered safety glasses as they do not provide protection against impact and usually do not provide sufficient coverage against flying debris and splashes.
Safety goggles should be used when greater protection is needed than provided by safety glasses e.g. where medium- or high-impact energy activities are occurring or strong chemicals are in use. The lenses must be appropriate to the protection required.
Goggles usually have head straps.
Safety goggles fit tightly against the face and are available in two designations:
- Eyecup goggles—an eye protector consisting of two lenses mounted in cups supported by a flexible nose bridge and headband.
- Wide-vision goggles—an eye protector in which the lens or lenses extend over the full width of the face, affording a large field of vision. Includes cover-all goggles designed to fit over prescription spectacles.
Considerations for choice of eye protection:
Choose for purpose:
- A site-specific risk assessment should be completed to identify hazardous chemicals and physical impacts where safety glasses or goggles are required.
- In science education, safety glasses that are certified low–medium impact and carry the manufacturer’s ID and ‘AS1337’ imprinted on the side are suitable for most activities.
- Some safety glasses styles allow them to be worn over prescription glasses, which provides the necessary protection to the wearer of prescription glasses.
- Consideration could be given to individuals purchasing prescription safety glasses. Changes to the Australian Standard now mean that prescription safety glasses must now be compliant with the new medium-impact requirements.
- There may be times, particularly in the preparation room, where goggles or a face shield are more appropriate.
Choose for fit and comfort:
- Eye protection should be suitable in size and fit and reasonably comfortable for the student or employee who is to wear it.
- Larger sizes are available for adults and senior students.
- Smaller sizes can be purchased for younger students.
- Appropriate choice of “over” safety glasses is necessary when worn over prescription glasses.
- Safety glasses are generally more comfortable and practical for student use than safety goggles.
- Goggles are prone to poor air circulation and fog up, which may create a secondary hazard. They are also more difficult to keep clean.
Additional information regarding eye protection in educational institutions can be found at http://education.qld.gov.au/health/pdfs/healthsafety/ppe.pdf
Queensland Department of Education Training and Employment Personal Protective Equipment http://education.qld.gov.au/health/pdfs/healthsafety/ppe.pdf accessed March 2015
Safe Work Australia Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/whs-information/hazardous-... accessed April 2015
Standards Australia. AS/NZS 1336-2014 Eye and face protection guidelines. Sydney. Australia.
Victoria Government, Better Health Channel. Eye safety at work http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Eye_safet... accessed April 2015
WorkCover NSW. Personal Protective Equipment. http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/health-and-safety/manage-workplace-safet... accessed March 2015
safetyrisk.net. Changes to Australian Standard ASNZ 1337. https://web.archive.org/web/20170301090834/https://www.healthsafety.com.... (Original site no longer exists, this copy brought to you from another side archived on the Internet Archive's Wayback machine.)
WorkCover Queensland Personal protective equipment https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/managing-risks/... accessed March 2015