Date: Wed, 6 Jan 2010 11:30:40 -0600
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Eileen Mason <lnmsn8**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Eye protection in chemistry labs
In-Reply-To: <B1331E0BABBF2F41ADBB549EF89EA74A0329222ACF56**At_Symbol_Here**>

Why do all those pictures show safety glasses instead of goggles?
Consider who is taking the pictures and for what reason: photographers
want to show faces, unless you have something really cool like Level A
suits. HR people want to show those smiling students.  If a parent
sees safety goggles, is he going to say "Gee, this is a college with
an understanding of safety", or is he going to say "Why will my child
be exposed to something so hazardous that it requires that type of

The safety geeks rarely get to make any comments about the pictures
until AFTER they are published.

On 1/6/10, David C. Finster  wrote:
> Chemical safety folks,
> My understanding is that most safety professionals who are related to
> chemistry labs hold the position that the only adequate eye protection in
> labs that use "chemicals" (as reagents, not in the sense that a screwdriver
> is ultimately a "chemical") is the chemical splash goggle.  In particular,
> safety glasses, even with side shields, are not appropriate since they do
> not adequately protect against splashes.  At my college, the rule is "splash
> goggles all of the time" (except when we are in a lab that has no chemicals
> presents, such as when we do computational chemistry experiments using the
> computers in a lab).  So, I'm starting this discussion with this assumption.
> However, I would say that 90% of the images that I see in publications (such
> as C&ENews, a recent ACS CPT report, and MANY websites of chemistry
> departments at colleges and universities) students and faculty in lab
> settings are not wearing splash goggles, but usually safety glasses of some
> design.  As I scrutinize the images, the exact nature of the lab is
> sometimes unclear although often it is very clearly a "chemistry lab".   I
> often find myself yelling at the image about the inappropriate nature of the
> eye protection.  (This does not usually elicit a productive response.  I
> also sometime yell at TV commercials, with the same result.)
> I'll add two more comments before posing my questions to the DCHAS group.
> First, I believe that the appropriate eye protection in any situation should
> be the eye protection that is necessary to prevent exposure in that
> situation.  There are surely many circumstances in labs (but perhaps not
> chemistry labs) where safety glasses are appropriate.   I can imagine that
> in many physics and biology labs, there is no reasonable need for splash
> goggles.  Or, on a given day for a particular experiment, the splash hazard
> may be so minimal that safety glasses (which are presumably designed to
> protect against shrapnel of some sort) are adequate and appropriate.  I can
> also imagine that in some lab circumstances there is no reasonable need for
> eye protection at all.  If I'm running an FT-IR of a Nujol mull of a solid
> sample between NaCl plates, what is the eye exposure risk?  Do I need PPE
> when sitting at the console of an NMR?      However, the danger of this line
> of argument in chemistry labs is that it is unreasonable to expect chemists
> to constantly be changing their "level" of eye protection as they move from
> one lab to another lab, or one bench to another bench, or from day to day,
> depending upon the local situation and what experiment is being performed.
> Thus, we take the position described in paragraph one above.
> Second, safety glasses are more comfortable to wear.  However, the degree of
> difference in comfort level between goggles and glasses has dropped
> dramatically in recent years, it seems to me.  Fogging is still a problem
> for some folks (students) but the actual level of comfort of wearing goggles
> is quite high these days.  I assume, though, that the main reasons glasses
> are worn (preferred) more often is due to comfort.
> So, finally, to my questions.
> What the heck is going on?  If goggles are the standard level of eye
> protection, why do we still see so many images of chemists wearing safety
> glasses?  The ancillary comment to this question is:  since " a picture is
> worth a thousand words" don't these images regularly contradict our
> admonitions about eye protection?  What is the effect of the picture of a
> chemist, obviously in a chemistry lab, wearing safety glasses in (almost?,
> well, at least "commonly") every issue of C&ENews.  Should CHAS write a
> letter to Rudy Baum in capital (screaming) letters saying "STOP THIS
> of chemistry labs (in academia and industry) where the CHP calls for only
> safety glasses, at what risk is the CHO and the institution if there is an
> incident and they are asked:  "Why does your CHP not require the 'accepted
> standard' of PPE practice?"
> Finally, as devil's advocate for safety glasses, do we safety professionals
> have a database of accidents or episodes where we can show that instances
> have occurred where safety glasses were not adequate eye protection?  There
> are surely incidents where NO eye protection was the critical lapse in PPE
> that led to eye damage, but do we know of examples where safety glasses
> (only) led to eye damage?
> Dave
> David C. Finster
> Professor of Chemistry
> University Chemical Hygiene Officer
> Department of Chemistry
> Wittenberg University
> dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.