B-151243, MAY 8, 1963, 42 COMP. GEN. 626

B-151243: May 8, 1963

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WHO ARE ENGAGED IN HAZARDOUS DUTIES. UNLESS AN EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO FURNISH A PRESCRIPTION. YOU ADVISE THAT THESE INVOICES WERE PAID BY THE CASHIER AND INCLUDED AS SUBVOUCHERS IN HIS REPLENISHMENT VOUCHER. AFTER A THOROUGH REVIEW OF ITS SAFETY PROGRAMS DETERMINED THAT SAFETY GLASSES WERE NECESSARY FOR THE SAFETY OF EMPLOYEES WORKING WITH TOXIC CHEMICALS. PERSONNEL WORKING WITH THESE MATERIALS HAVE BEEN ORDERED AND REQUIRED TO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES. IT WAS FELT THAT THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE SHOULD PAY FOR THE PRESCRIPTIONS AS WELL AS THE FRAMES AND LENSES. THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT THE REASONS FOR ORDERING THE TYPE OF SAFETY GLASSES USED RATHER THAN GOGGLES OR OTHER TYPE SAFETY DEVICES ARE AS FOLLOWS: 1.

B-151243, MAY 8, 1963, 42 COMP. GEN. 626

APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY - SAFETY GLASSES ALTHOUGH THE COST OF PRESCRIPTION GROUND SAFETY GLASSES (FRAMES AND LENSES) WHICH AN AGENCY REQUIRES EMPLOYEES TO WEAR FOR THEIR PROTECTION MAY BE PAID FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS PURSUANT TO 5 U.S.C. 118G, WHICH AUTHORIZES THE PURCHASE OF SPECIAL CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE PROTECTION OF EMPLOYEES, WHO ARE ENGAGED IN HAZARDOUS DUTIES, IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR ASSIGNED TASKS, THE GLASSES TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT AND SUBJECT TO ITS CONTROL, THE COST OF EYE EXAMINATIONS AND PRESCRIPTIONS MAY NOT BE PAID BY AN AGENCY, UNLESS AN EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO FURNISH A PRESCRIPTION, OR THAT A PRESCRIPTION CANNOT BE MADE FROM GLASSES HE NORMALLY WEARS, THE NECESSITY FOR PRESCRIPTION GROUND SAFETY LENSES PRESUPPOSING EMPLOYEES NORMALLY WEAR OR REQUIRE VISION CORRECTIVES MADE UP FROM A PRESCRIPTION.

TO RUTH H. LABONTE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE, MAY 8, 1963:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 4, 1963 (YOUR REFERENCE, FIN:), REQUESTS OUR DECISION WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT TWO INVOICES AS FOLLOWS:

(1) INVOICE IN THE AMOUNT OF $16.65 IN FAVOR OF THE AMERICAN OPTICAL COMPANY BILLING THE NORTHEASTERN RADIOLOGICAL HEALTH LABORATORY, WINCHESTER, MASS. FOR PRESCRIPTION EYE GLASSES (FRAMES AND LENSES) FOR AN EMPLOYEE OF THE LABORATORY, MR. CASPER HEGGE.

(2) INVOICE IN THE AMOUNT OF $10 IN FAVOR OF DR. JEROME ROBERTS, OPTOMETRIST, 458 MAIN STREET, WOBURN, MASS. COVERING EYE EXAMINATION AND PRESCRIPTION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SAFETY GLASSES FOR THE SAME EMPLOYEE.

YOU ADVISE THAT THESE INVOICES WERE PAID BY THE CASHIER AND INCLUDED AS SUBVOUCHERS IN HIS REPLENISHMENT VOUCHER.

THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT THE MANAGEMENT OF THE NORTHEASTERN RADIOLOGICAL HEALTH LABORATORY, PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE, AFTER A THOROUGH REVIEW OF ITS SAFETY PROGRAMS DETERMINED THAT SAFETY GLASSES WERE NECESSARY FOR THE SAFETY OF EMPLOYEES WORKING WITH TOXIC CHEMICALS, ABRASIVES AND RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS. ACCORDINGLY, PERSONNEL WORKING WITH THESE MATERIALS HAVE BEEN ORDERED AND REQUIRED TO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES. HENCE, IT WAS FELT THAT THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE SHOULD PAY FOR THE PRESCRIPTIONS AS WELL AS THE FRAMES AND LENSES.

THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT THE REASONS FOR ORDERING THE TYPE OF SAFETY GLASSES USED RATHER THAN GOGGLES OR OTHER TYPE SAFETY DEVICES ARE AS FOLLOWS:

1. THOSE WHO MUST WEAR GLASSES COULD NOT SUBSTITUTE A GOGGLE UNLESS IT IS TO BE A PRESCRIPTION LENS.

2. IT IS NOT PRACTICAL TO WEAR GOGGLES ON A CONTINUOUS BASIS AS OUR BENCH CHEMISTS, CHEMISTRY TECHNICIANS AND MAINTENANCE PERSONNEL WOULD BE REQUIRED TO DO SO IF THEY DID NOT HAVE SAFETY GLASSES.

3.TO REQUIRE A SHIELDING OVER AN INDIVIDUAL'S GLASSES FOR A FULL SHIFT WOULD PLACE AN UNCOMFORTABLE WEIGHT ON THE BRIDGE OF THE NOSE AND CAUSE THE GLASS TO CONSTANTLY SLIP DOWN.

4. ALTHOUGH PRESCRIPTION SAFETY LENSES ARE AN ITEM ONLY OF USE TO THE INDIVIDUAL FOR WHOM THEY ARE GROUND, THEIR WEIGHT PLUS THAT OF THE FRAMES DOES NOT PROVIDE A "COMFORTABLE" PAIR OF GLASSES TO BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR REGULAR GLASSES.

SECTION 13 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 2, 1946, CH. 744, 60 STAT. 809, 5 U.S.C. 118G, PROVIDES THAT---

SEC. 13. APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF SUPPLIES AND MATERIAL OR EQUIPMENT SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE AND MAINTENANCE OF SPECIAL CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE PROTECTION OF PERSONNEL IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR ASSIGNED TASKS.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE-CITED PROVISIONS OF LAW THERE IS NO QUESTION BUT THAT AN AGENCY'S APPROPRIATIONS MAY BE USED TO PURCHASE SAFETY GLASSES FOR THE PROTECTION OF EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN HAZARDOUS DUTIES. SEE 32 COMP. GEN. 229. FURTHER, IT IS OUR VIEW THAT UNDER THIS PROVISION OF LAW EMPLOYEES ENGAGED IN HAZARDOUS DUTIES WHO NORMALLY WEAR CORRECTIVE EYEGLASSES OR OTHER VISION CORRECTIVES AND WHO, FOR THEIR OWN PROTECTION, ARE REQUIRED BY AN AGENCY TO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES IN CONNECTION WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF SUCH DUTIES MAY BE FURNISHED PRESCRIPTION GROUND SAFETY GLASSES AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, SINCE IN SUCH A CASE PRESCRIPTION GROUND SAFETY GLASSES WOULD BE NECESSARY "FOR THE PROTECTION" OF SUCH EMPLOYEES "IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR ASSIGNED TASKS.' ACCORDINGLY, THE CASHIER MAY BE REIMBURSED THE AMOUNT ($16.65) PAID THE AMERICAN OPTICAL COMPANY FOR PRESCRIPTION GROUND SAFETY GLASSES (FRAMES AND LENSES) FOR MR. HEGGE. OF COURSE ALL SAFETY GLASSES FURNISHED THE EMPLOYEES BY THE GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING THE PRESCRIPTION GROUND SAFETY GLASSES, REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT AND SUBJECT TO ITS CONTROL.

CONCERNING THE COST OF THE EYE EXAMINATION AND PRESCRIPTION, THE NECESSITY FOR PRESCRIPTION GROUND SAFETY LENSES PRESUPPOSES THAT THE EMPLOYEE INVOLVED NORMALLY WEARS OR REQUIRES SOME TYPE OF VISION CORRECTIVES MADE UP FROM A PRESCRIPTION. THEREFORE, IN THE ABSENCE OF A SHOWING THAT MR. HEGGE WAS UNABLE TO FURNISH A PRESCRIPTION FROM WHICH THE PRESCRIPTION GROUND SAFETY GLASSES COULD BE MADE, OR THAT A PRESCRIPTION COULD NOT BE MADE FROM HIS PRESENT GLASSES, I.E., FROM THE GLASSES HE NORMALLY WEARS, THE CASHIER MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR THE AMOUNT PAID TO DR. JEROME ROBERTS FOR THE EYE EXAMINATION OF MR. HEGGE.