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Plastic vs. metal frames for perscription safety glasses? #147575
12/10/02 03:46 PM
12/10/02 03:46 PM
E  Offline OP
Junior Member
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1
Santa Clara, CA
Can anyone point me in the right direction?

I searched ANSI, Fed. and Cal. OSHA regulations, NEC, NFPA 70A,B and E, European Community standards as well as countless websites and can find no reference suggesting that metal safety glasses frames are prohibited when working as an electrician or performing maintenance tasks on semiconducor manufacturing equipment.

This question came up while revising our safety glasses policy. Currently, only plastic safety glasses over prescription glasses or plastic prescription safety glasses are approved.

I have seen numerous electrical contractors wearing metal framed prescription safety glasses.

It seems reasonable to me for electricans and others to wear metal frames but I'd like to hear this from others who have already addressed this issue. ANSI Z87.1-1989 only specifies impact requirements for the lens and frame not composition of the frame.

Any suggestions or code references would be appreciated.

Erik Hasenbein
Applied Materials, EHS

Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools
Re: Plastic vs. metal frames for perscription safety glasses? #147576
12/11/02 08:50 PM
12/11/02 08:50 PM
ThinkGood  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,081
Milwaukee, WI
Hope this helps (Is this up-to-date?):


Standard Number: 1910.333


This is in response to your memorandum of July 17, 1992, requesting clarification of 1910.333(c)(8) as it may apply to eyeglasses with exposed metal parts. Please accept our apologies for the extensive delay in responding.

Eyeglasses with exposed metal parts are considered "Conductive apparel". As noted in the middle of column 2 of page 32007 of the preamble published in Volume 55, Number 151 of the Federal Register on Monday, August 6, 1990, the Electrical Safety Related Work Practice standard at 1910.333(c)(8) prohibits employees from wearing conductive objects in a manner presenting an electrical contact hazard. Normally, the wearing of eyeglasses containing exposed metal frames (or metal parts of frames) is not considered to present an electrical contact hazard. However, when the glasses have a metal type frame and the employee is working with his or her face extremely close to energized parts or when a metallic chain strap is attached to the frame for wearing around the neck, an electrical contact hazard can be present. In such cases, the standard permits the hazard to be removed by eliminating the chain and wearing either a protective face shield or appropriate safety glasses over the metal frame optical glasses.


Re: Plastic vs. metal frames for perscription safety glasses? #147577
12/15/02 07:18 PM
12/15/02 07:18 PM
OSHA Professor  Offline
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 48
Eric & ThinkGood,

I'm impressed ! Federal Register, Preambles to standards, European standards, that’s pretty impressive gentlemen.

Sometimes we all get too caught up in researching seemingly esoteric stuff when all we need to do is get back to the basics (like whats the hazard). I’m just as guilty sometimes.

Metal frame eyeglasses used to be somewhat controversial with regard to electrical work but the issue has been pretty much settled (primarily by NFPA). Let’s look at the hazard presented by the wearing of same. ThinkGood is correct when he said that the wearing of metal frame glasses is not considered an electrical contact hazard. If it were to become a contact hazard then the wearer would be in violation of MAD’s (minimum approach distances) with respect to live parts. In that case the person’s nose could contact the live parts before the eyeglasses.

The real hazard exposure is arc flash / arc blast due to the glasses falling from the wearer across live parts in the equipment causing and arc blast. NFPA settled that issue with the addition of the requirement in the latest 70 E (2000 edition). NFPA said it’s OK to wear metal frame glasses with restraint (I’m paraphrasing – don’t have my 70 E with me right now) (if you can’t find the exact reference e-mail me and I’ll give it to you). The restraint is supposed to keep the glasses from falling into the equipment. Now I suppose that a long restraint such as a long chain could allow the glasses to fall and swing into the equipment and would not meet the intent of the standard, but a tighter restraint which holds the glasses in place would, whereby abating that hazard. BTW a qualified worker was wearing a gold (decorative) neck chain when he was caught in an arc blast / arc / flash (not caused by the chain)--- the chain was so hot from the flash that it melted through the flesh right down to the breast bone.
I have much greater concern as to why “electricians are performing maintenance tasks” on live equipment. That’s easy to find in the current U.S. standards (OSHA & NFPA). It’s prohibited (except for greater hazard or infeasibility). What makes this equipment infeasible to deenergize and lock out, if anything? Anyway, I hope this helps.

OSHA Professor

Re: Plastic vs. metal frames for perscription safety glasses? #147578
12/15/02 08:32 PM
12/15/02 08:32 PM
ThinkGood  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,081
Milwaukee, WI
Hi, Prof.

I was just quoting from OSHA, that's all ;-)

THANK YOU for your input.


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