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Safety Glass and Eye Protection Information

Safety Glass and Eye Protection Information

A Brief Background: The United States Federal Government has legislated an extensive system of guidelines designed to keep its citizens healthy and safe at work and at home. In the safety industry, the central body is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition, The American National Standards Institute – a private, non-profit organization – coordinates efforts with OSHA to develop standards for manufacturing many different products, including safety glasses and lenses. Throughout this catalog, each product section will list regulations according to OSHA and ANSI cooperatives.

Did You Know?
According to OSHA, an estimated 90% of eye injuries in the workplace CAN be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear (i.e. safety glasses). Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation (www.OSHA.gov). Eye injuries are probably the easiest of injuries to avoid. It's simple: Wear Your Safety Glasses! Other injuries can involve several precautionary measures and factors; But, in dealing with eyes, all you have to do is cover them.

Safety glasses should not only cover the front of your eyes, but also the sides and top. To be rated as adequate safety glasses, both frame and lenses must adhere to particular ANSI standards that define acceptable levels of impact resistance. The frames are sturdier than regular frames, and the lenses must be able to pass a "drop-ball" test. And as the name implies, the test involves dropping a hard ball onto the lens from a certain height. If the lens cracks or shatters, that particular pair of safety glasses will fail the test, possibly because the lens is too thin or the material is defective.

What Makes Safety Glasses Different From Regular Ones?
In fact, a new standard, ANSI Z87.1-2003, was passed recently, which describes requirements for two types of lenses: high impact and basic impact. Since our catalog lists OSHA and ANSI regulations for our products, employers who require safety glasses or eye protection for employees will find it easy to determine which type of lens is most suitable at their job site.

Comparison of Lens Materials



  • Strongest material for impact resistance
  • Lightweight
  • Can be coated for scratch resistance
  • Most have built-in UV radiation protection
  • About ½ the weight of glass
  • Resistant to solvents and pitting
  • More choices for coatings and tinting
  • High-density (heavy lenses)
  • Loses impact resistance if scratched
  • Does not meet impact criteria as set by ANSI
(*Polycarbonate lenses are not only thinner and lighter in weight than traditional plastic eyeglass lenses, they also offer ultraviolet (UV) protection and scratch resistance. In addition, they are very impact resistant. This extra toughness makes polycarbonate the material of choice for safety glasses.

Comparison of Safety Glasses / Eye Protection Designs




Semi/flat-folded side-shields. Provide primary protection against impact and optical radiation. Side-shield safety glasses are recommended.


*There are many different kinds of goggles that can vary in appearance and protection
1. Flexible fitting, regular ventilation: Cushion the face, protect eyes at sides, top, and bottom. 2. Flexible fitting, hooded ventilation: Protect against impact, sparks, chemical splashes, and dust. 3. Cushioned fit, rigid body: Protect against impact, sparks, chemical splashes, irritating mists, and dust. 4. Welding goggles, eyecup type, filter lenses: Ideal for protection from glare and sparks. 5. Chipping goggles, eyecup type, clear lenses: Protect against hot sparks and nuisance dust.

Face Shield

Plastic or mesh window. Designed to protect the whole face; must be supplemented with safety glasses.

Welding Helmet

Stationary window or lift-front window. Protection from welding, soldering, and brazing. Must be supplemented with safety glasses.

Excerpts from 29 CFR 1910.133 for Eye and Face Protection
The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation… The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects… The employer shall ensure that each affected employee who wear prescription lenses while engaged in operation that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without distributing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses… The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses equipment with filter lenses that have a shade number appropriate for the work being performed for protection from injurious light radiation.

Hazard Assessment and Safety Glasses
According to OSHA, personal protective equipment (PPE) for the eyes and face is designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to workers. The employer must assess the workplace and determine if hazards that necessitate the use of safety glasses and/or face protection are present – or are likely to be present – before assigning PPE to workers [1910.132(d)]. A hazard assessment should determine the risk of exposure to eye and face hazards, including those that may be encountered in an emergency. Employers should be aware of the possibility of multiple and simultaneous hazard exposures and be prepared to protect against the highest level of each hazard [1910 Subpart I App B]. Typically, eye injuries occur by rubbed or grinded foreign matter, such as metal chips, dirt particles, and splinters, or by striking the eye. The resulting surface wounds – such as abrasions, scratches, and foreign bodies – are among the most common types of injuries to the eyes. Some other hazards include chemicals, adhesives, radiation, tools, and equipment. The HIGHEST categories contributing to eye injuries are related to household, workplace, and sports environments.

The following chart provides a brief summary of hazard types characteristic of various work environments, and links to OSHA for more in-depth information:

Hazard type

Examples of Hazard

Common Related Tasks

Impact Flying objects such as large chips, fragments, particles, sand, and dirt Chipping, grinding, machining, masonry work, wood-working, sawing, drilling, chiseling, powered fastening, riveting, and sanding
Heat Anything emitting extreme heat Furnace operations, pouring, casting, hot dipping, and welding
Chemicals Splash, fumes, vapors, and irritating mists Acid and chemical handling, degreasing, plating, and working with blood
Dust Harmful Dust Woodworking, buffing, and general dusty conditions
Optical Radiation Radiant energy, glare, and intense light Welding, torch-cutting, brazing, soldering, and laser work

Eye Safety at Home
According to the National Safety Council (NSC.org), 4 out of every 10 accidents that cause blindness happen at home. Just because you may not need safety glasses at your place of work (for example- an office setting), does not mean you can avoid all risks of eye injuries at home. Off-the-job eye injuries occur because of:
  • Do-it-yourself work on cars and homes.
  • Cooking accidents.
  • Chemical splashes from pesticides, fertilizers, drain cleaners, and cleaning sprays.
  • Sports injuries while playing tennis, racquetball, baseball, etc.
Wear the right protection for the job you are doing. Putting on a pair of safety glasses might save you from a severe eye injury, or even save your vision. · Choose sunglasses that offer protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays. · Wear safety glasses while doing repair jobs and working with chemicals at home. · Wear safety glasses when playing ball sports. · Wear safety glasses over contact lenses and prescription eyeglasses.

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