Prescription Safety Glasses FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the State of North Carolina Requirements for Replacing Prescription Safety Glasses

EHS&EM frequently receives questions regarding State of North Carolina policies and procedures for replacing prescription safety glasses. We have summarized the information below in the form of questions and answers.

The State of NC Prescription Safety Glasses Contract (effective 2002-2003) lists Prescription Safety Glasses with permanently-attached side shields as the only prescription safety glasses to be offered and purchased by state agencies. Why was this change made?

Side shields provide critical protection from flying particles or objects.  Therefore OSHA requires side shields on all glasses used for protection from impact or flying particles. The State Contract for Safety Eyewear was amended to require side shields on all prescription safety glasses in order to protect North Carolina state employees.

May employees purchase and use prescription safety glasses without permanently attached side shields when only frontal protection is required?

No, employees may not purchase and use prescription safety glasses without permanently attached side shields.  In reality, there is no such thing as flying objects or particles that "only" travel directly frontwards towards the eyes.

How often can an employee request and department purchase new prescription safety glasses for an employee?

Neither North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NCOSHA) nor North Carolina Office of State Personnel (NCOSP) specifies a frequency with which prescription glasses can be purchased.  The frequency with which prescription safety glasses need replacing depends on the employee's job, prescription, work-related damage to eyewear, changes in the job (e.g. tinted lenses or nonconductive frames are needed), and other variables that are always subject to change.  Each department has the responsibility to determine replacement schedules.  At a minimum, new prescription safety glasses should be purchased when the employee's prescription changes; when the lenses are scratched or cracked; or when the frames no longer fit properly.

Is there a maximum number of prescription safety glasses an employee may request and receive in a calendar year?

See previous answer.

As an option, may departments require employees to use safety goggles or over-the-glasses ("OTG") safety spectacles instead of prescription safety glasses?

Safety goggles or OTG safety spectacles should not be substituted for prescription safety glasses unless: (1) the employee prefers safety these over prescription safety glasses; or (2) the need for safety glasses is infrequent (e.g. 3 times or less per day) and of short duration (e.g. 15 minutes or less).  If prescription safety glasses and safety goggles both are required PPE for the hazard (as documented by a job Hazard Assessment), then the department must purchase prescription safety glasses in addition to goggles.   If the PPE Hazard Assessment for the job identifies safety goggles as required PPE, and prescription safety glasses are not required PPE, then the employer does not need to purchase prescription safety glasses in addition to goggles.


[Last updated 8/21/2014]

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