From: Jessica Martin <jessica.a.martin**At_Symbol_Here**UCONN.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Query about eye protection policy in academia
Date: Fri, 8 Nov 2019 07:32:14 -0500
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: A9CC7BA3-B0F6-4314-81EB-B317144D4150**At_Symbol_Here**

For my school:

-Undergrads and the TAs teaching them are required to wear splash goggles
-In our CHP, the researchers are told that they are supposed to wear safety glasses whenever they enter any area that uses or stores chemicals.  They are also told to wear splash goggles when they are actively doing experiments.

-In the undergrad labs, TAs appear to be reasonably compliant and spend a lot of time hounding their students (gen chem level is what I am aware of) to actually wear their splash goggles properly.
-In the research labs, many people do not wear eye protection at all.  "Good" labs wear safety glasses regularly.  I find that it is very uncommon to find a grad student in a research lab wearing safety goggles.

-While it is theoretically true that safety should trump comfort, people are simply less willing to wear uncomfortable PPE.  Common reasons grad students cite for not wearing splash goggles: they fog up when I am working (even when opening all vents, etc), they are uncomfortable on my face, they leave raccoon marks on my face, and "what I am doing doesn't really need splash goggles" (i.e. they are not convinced that the hazards they are dealing with require this level of PPE).
-Compliance in undergrad labs is often a struggle for the same reasons - and since the school has done so much work in reducing the hazards involved in gen chem undergrad labs, many students have observed that there are many labs where they are literally "just working with water", or are working with such a small amount of a hazardous substance that the possibility of them actually splashing themselves in the face is pretty remote.  I do know of one incident where a TA accidentally got sprayed in the face with an acetone bottle in a gen chem class though, so I at least have that as an explanation (but we don't have the acetone bottles out unless we need them so they often aren't present anyway).

We have a club on campus that sells the safety goggles for $5, and our bookstore sells them for $6.  When I was in undergrad, we were required to go to Home Depot and buy our own splash goggles, and they only cost a few dollars.  These have all of the appropriate ANZI markings.  In my experience, basic safety glasses appear to cost more because companies are trying to make them "stylish" - and possibly because I have only looked at buying them individually rather than in bulk.

Jessica A. Martin
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Graduate Student Career Council
Joint Safety Team 
Pinkhassik Group, Department of Chemistry
University of Connecticut

"To change a community, you have to change the composition of the soil-
If you want to meet with me, come to the garden with your shovel so we can plant some sh-t." 
Ron Finley

"Argue for your limitations 
and sure enough they're yours." 
Richard Bach

"If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence,
try ordering somebody else's dog around."
Will Rogers

"People don't realize this about chemistry: 
it's a lifelong source of humor."
James B. Comey

On Nov 7, 2019, at 11:14 AM, David C. Finster <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**WITTENBERG.EDU> wrote:

I would like to query the group about eye protection.  As I understand it, the current and long-standing position taken by the ACS is the recommendation for the use of splash goggles and that using safety glasses is discouraged. 
As a starter, Prudent Practices (2011) states:

"Researchers should assess the risks associated with an experiment and use the appropriate level of eye protection:

• Safety glasses with side shields provide the mini =ADmum protection acceptable for regular use. They must meet the American National Standards Insti =ADtute (ANSI) Z87.1-2003 Standard for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection, which specifies minimum lens thickness and impact resistance requirements.
• Chemical splash goggles are more appropriate than regular safety glasses to protect against haz =ADards such as projectiles, as well as when working with glassware under reduced or elevated pres =ADsures (e.g., sealed tube reactions), when handling potentially explosive compounds (particularly during distillations), and when using glassware in high-temperature operations.
• Chemical splash goggles or face shields should be worn when there is a risk of splashing hazardous materials or flying particles."
I have always interpreted the ACS position to intend to apply to (at least) academic labs where:
  1. It is desirable to require student to purchase only one kind of eye protection, and, therefore
  2. Splash goggles are required since they will necessarily protect in "all labs" whereas safety glasses would protect <100% of the time since they would not provide adequate protection in the presence of liquid chemicals.
As a note in prelude to the rest of this email, I'll observe that at my college we have required safety goggles for at least the past 38 years.  The main argument rests on the two statements above.
I make the following assertions:
  1. Students must wear some form of eye protection in all labs that use chemicals.  
  2. If we wish to teach students how to use any form of PPE, they should be taught how to identify hazards and judge the level of risk.
  3. In our general chemistry program, there are perhaps 1-2 experiments where, in a worst-case scenario it would be advisable to wear splash goggles instead of safety glasses.
  4. Having taught general chemistry for 38 years, I can think of no episode where safety glasses would not have provided the necessary level of eye protection.   Otherwise stated, in general chemistry we have never experienced a "splash episode" that threatened the face at large.   (Frankly, I can think of no episode where any eye protection was actually "used" in the sense of protecting eye contact by a lab chemical - but I am surely not inclined to recommend "no eye protection".)
  5. Wearing goggles is less comfortable than wearing safety glasses.  "Comfort" does not trump "safety" but, particularly in light of the desire to wear "appropriate PPE" (based on a risk assessment,) it seems inappropriate to have students wear unnecessary PPE (ie, splash goggles).
  6. While I know of no hard data in this matter, conversations with colleagues and the examination of websites suggests that wearing safety glasses is commonplace at many colleges and universities.  Further, conversations with former students who went to graduate school and/or into industry suggest that safety glasses are much more common in these environments (despite the widely held view that "industry is safer than academia").  Thus, it seems that the ACS recommendation that is widely ignored.
Given these assumptions, I am considering a new recommended policy (that the ACS may wish to consider) that posits that student should purchaseboth safety glasses and splash goggles and then wear the appropriate eye protection during each lab.  The choice of eye protection can follow an appropriate hazard and risk assessment for each experiment.  There is a financial cost (to the student) for this recommendation, but since most students will progress on to organic chemistry (where the need for splash goggles in likely higher) the cost can be spread out over other parts of the curriculum. The clear advantage to this recommendation is that it fosters the use of RAMP on a regular basis and students are wearing appropriate eye protection all the time as determined by a needed risk assessment that minimizes the risks of hazards.
(The cost issue is not catastrophic:  I found the splash goggles that we use online at $13 and the safety glasses look like about $7.   Interestingly, our bookstore charges $24 for the goggles!)
Of course, any campus can adopt this policy irrespective of ACS recommendations.  And, some campuses may decide that safety glasses are appropriate at all times (but this seems unwise to me).
I welcome the wisdom of the group on this matter.
David C. Finster
Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry
Wittenberg University

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