We've heard a lot of banter on goggles, when they need to be used and what constitutes a risk. It's been a good discussion. However, I feel it necessary to chime in.
Eye protection, like any other PPE requires a solid risk assessment to be handed out. Risk (or "consequence tolerance") is a matrix combination of Hazard x Probability of Exposure. One needs evaluate the whole risk picture, which includes a realistic view of consequence tolerance and Probability of Exposure. Dogmatic adherence to a set of rules really has no place in the equation, and speaking from experience, safety in extremis breeds contempt for all rules and weakens the overall safety culture of the organization.
I'll interject a some opinion here with examples that have been given up as questions:
1. The transfer of microliter or milliliter quantities of a liquid through a closed process (e.g. Eppindorf pipette or seriological pippette) probably does not require goggles for the operation. The probability of eye exposure is so low that it drives risk to an acceptable level.
2. The open transfer (e.g. pouring) of mL quantity of a liquid MAY require goggles.
In both of the examples above, the hazard presented by the liquid, adjusted for its concentration as well as the experience of the operator plays a factor into the overall risk equation.
That being said, I have absolutely no problem mandating the use of chemical splash goggles in Freshman/Sophomore Chemistry Laboratories. Why? The Experience Factor. GenChem and OrgChem students simply do not have the experience in chemical manipulations, and the probability of exposure skyrockets when you cram 18-25 inexperienced students into a typical college/university laboratory where the only thing on their mind is the weekend agenda. Likewise, the tolerance for consequence is generally lower in academic world than in the industrial world.
On Visorgogs: I have in the past recommended against using them as a substitute for chemical splash goggles. The last time I looked, they did not provided adequate splash protection - in my opinion. See Linda Stroud's article in J. Chem. Health Safe. 2007, 14(3), 20 for some very telling photos. (Available on ScienceDirect for practically everyone on this list.)
In short - it's RISK that must be thoroughly evaluated.
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