Even if you are not doing anything that “needs” safety eyewear, you still need safety eyewear in the lab!
You do not have control over all hazards in the lab—one of your fellows may walk in with a chemical bottle and suddenly drop it on the bench in front of you, or a pressurized system (like a gas cylinder regulator) may throw off a part. You are exposed to more hazards than you personally are handling—choose eyewear according to your exposure, not your specific work. There have been incidents at Homewood where uninvolved labmates were suddenly involved in someone else’s accident.
Wearing appropriate eyewear in lab or shop is also a mark of a professional scientist or engineer. If you have to be told to put on your safety glasses or goggles when visiting an industrial or governmental facility, you will be considered unprofessional, and you may not get the job for which you are interviewing. Acquire the habit of wearing safety eyewear.
Algorithm for deciding whether you need safety eyewear:
- Is the work you’re about to do hazardous?
If YES, wear appropriate eyewear. Obviously, you personally need it.
- Is anyone else in the lab doing hazardous work?
If YES, wear appropriate eyewear. You are exposed to their hazards.
- Are chemicals or compressed gases stored or used in the lab at any time?
If YES, wear appropriate eyewear. You do not have control over falling chemical bottles, poorly secured pressurized parts, etc.
- Is it possible anyone else will bring hazardous work into the lab while you are there?
If YES, wear appropriate eyewear. Somebody can walk in and drop a chemical bottle at any time, so you need to be ready.
- Is it possible that you will “forget” to put on your eyewear if you decide to do hazardous work—or simply not do it because “you’re just doing one little thing?”
If YES, wear appropriate eyewear.
- Are you sure you won’t do anything hazardous in lab today, no one will walk in with hazardous materials or equipment, nothing hazardous is stored in the lab, and you want to exhibit bad professional habits?
If YES, you DON’T need to wear safety eyewear.