Protecting Yourself from UV Light Exposure: What Are the OSHA Standards?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has an ionizing radiation standard that covers alpha, beta, gamma, and x-rays; neutrons; high-speed electrons and protons; and other atomic particles. However, this standard does not include sound or radio waves, or visible, infrared, or ultraviolet (UV) light. Therefore, there are no limits on employee exposure to UV radiation required by OSHA. When working with UV radiation sources, employers must arrange or protect the sterilizing lamps or other equipment in such a way that UV radiation, whether direct or reflected, does not hit the employees' eyes with a harmful intensity.

If this is not possible, employees must be provided with glasses of a type that prevents such radiation from damaging the eyes. Additionally, UV exposure can be minimized by limiting exposure time and increasing the distance between personnel and the UV source. If there is a possibility that the eyes and face may be exposed to UV radiation, a polycarbonate face protector with the ANSI Z87.1-1989 UV certification should be used to protect the eyes and face. Personnel working with UV radiation sources should also receive training in UV safety and be familiar with work practices and procedures related to UV protection.

The most commonly used UV protective equipment includes UV protection goggles, UV face shields, tight-knit long-sleeved clothing that covers a large part of the body, and gloves. Germicidal lamps, UV curing lamps, black lights, transilluminators, and cross-linking agents are common sources of UV radiation in laboratories. Some types of clear glass can transmit significant amounts of UV-A radiation and should not be relied upon to protect against UV rays unless they are verified to be UV-protected. Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) can help measure UV emissions and evaluate personal protective equipment to determine its protection against UV rays.

Any equipment that emits UV radiation and the area where the equipment is located must have the appropriate UV warning labels. Procedures should also be developed to control and minimize personnel exposure to UV rays when engineering controls are unable to adequately protect personnel from UV exposure. However, the use of UV skin protectors is considered inadequate for protection against the high irradiance of artificial UV radiation sources. The EH&S provides, upon request, UV safety training, assistance in selecting the appropriate UV eye protection, creating appropriate warning labels, and assistance with UV control measures.

Contact EH&S at (77) 327-5040 for more information or help. Since biological effects depend on the time of exposure, the specific UV wavelength, and the susceptibility of the exposed person, it is considered prudent to avoid unnecessary exposure of the skin to UV sources. It is important for employers to understand their responsibilities when it comes to protecting their employees from potential harm caused by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. OSHA does not have any specific standards for employee exposure to UV light but employers must take steps to ensure that their employees are adequately protected from potential harm caused by these rays.

Employers must arrange or protect sterilizing lamps or other equipment in such a way that direct or reflected UV radiation does not hit employees' eyes with a harmful intensity. Additionally, employers must provide employees with glasses that prevent such radiation from damaging their eyes as well as provide them with training in UV safety and familiarize them with work practices related to UV protection.

Rodney Marie
Rodney Marie

Wannabe beer junkie. Hardcore beer scholar. Extreme social media fanatic. Social media fanatic. Subtly charming beer junkie.

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