A Complete Guide to Safety Glasses
Safety Glasses Eye Protection Guide
The eyes are among the most vulnerable parts of the body, so selecting the right form of protection to keep them safe in certain work conditions is of critical importance. Here, we’ll provide an overview of everything you need to know when seeking out this essential form of protection.
Know Your Hazards
Before you can select the right type of eyewear for your needs, you should start by identifying the hazards in your workplace. Your environment could include any of the following risks, as well as combination of them:
- Chemical: Any line of work exposing individuals to harmful liquids or substances or acids pose chemical risks. These risks include splashes, droplets, spraying, and even causing irritation through mist.
- Impact: Occupations like masonry work and carpentry are notorious for their impact risks to the eyes. Sanding, chipping, grinding, and machining are likewise dangerous. Flying particles and fragments can cause serious damage to eyes.
- Heat: Welding is one common line of work which exposes operators to heat-related damage. Hot sparks and splashes from high-temperature materials can cause devastating burns, not just to the eye itself but also the surrounding skin.
- Dust: If your line of work involves woodworking or buffing of any sort, it’s important to keep your eyes protected against fine dust. Even seemingly harmless particles can cause eye irritation. At worst, they might even cause microscopic scrapes on the eye.
- Optical Radiation: Any job where UV or IR light or laser arcs are produced warrants the need for eye protection. These types of activities could include torch brazing and welding.
Exposure one of these hazards can cause serious damage to the eyes, and could even cause complete or partial loss of vision.
Understand ANSI Devices
ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, sets forth standards for eye and face protection by evaluating hazards and recommending specific types of eye protection to be worn for each. ANSI guidelines identify the following types of eye and face protection:
- Face Shield: Face shields are designed to either fully or partially protect the wearer’s face. Oftentimes, they consist of a helmet or similar type of headgear and a detachable mask or shield.
- Full-Face Piece Respirator: Designed to also support the wearer’s ability to avoid inhaling toxins, the full-face piece respirator covers the surface of the entire face, including the nose, mouth, and eyes.
- Safety Goggles: A general term for safety glasses, this form of protection surrounds the wearer’s eyes to shield them against some or all of the hazards described above. Note the difference between safety glasses, which feature arms that sit on the ears, and goggles, which feature a strap to create a tighter seal against the wearer’s face for a higher level of protection.
- Welding Face Shield, Goggle, or Helmet: Some types of eye and face wear are designed specifically to protect against the weld spatter and optical radiation produced by welding.
After determining which type of device is best suited for your application based on ANSI guidelines, you can move on and assess which lens will offer the right form of protection.
Learn About Lenses
When it comes to finding the best type of eyewear for your work conditions, one of the most important factors to consider is lens type. Let’s take a look at some options.
Lens coatings can play an important role in enhancing the wearer’s visibility. Some are also designed to prolong the lifespan of the goggles or glasses. Here are some common types of coatings:
- Scratch-resistant: As its name suggests, an anti-scratch lens/coating on safety glasses can extend the lifespan of the eyewear by protecting the lenses against scratches.
- Anti-static: In sensitive environments where static could compromise components the wearer works with, anti-static coating helps to reduce dust and can even limit particulate attraction.
- Anti-UV: For workers exposed to UV radiation, anti-UV coated eyewear is a must. These lenses can absorb upwards of 99.9% of radiation, thus protecting the wearer against long-term retinal damage.
- Anti-fog: If your workplace is located in a humid environment, anti-fog coatings can help you see clearly by deterring moisture buildup on lenses.
- Hard: Hard coatings can be bonded to most types of lenses to prolong their lifespan.
Different lens colors are designed to support specific types of tasks. To help you decide which option is right for your needs, simply refer to the color wheel. Lens colors will absorb light of opposite shades. For example, blue will absorb yellow light, since they are on opposite sides of the wheel.
- Amber: This tint blocks blue light and is best-suited for applications where there’s low light.
- Brown: Glares produced by outdoor light are blocked effectively with brown lenses.
- Clear: If there’s no danger of optical radiation, clear lenses may be a good fit for the task, as they offer a completely unfiltered view of the wearer’s surroundings.
- Gold, Blue, or Mirrored: Like brown lenses, these tints are ideal for outdoor wear because they block sunlight. Mirrored lenses take it a step further by reflecting light.
- Gray: Gray lenses prevent against eye fatigue in outdoor settings by keeping glare at bay.
- Indoor/Outdoor: This tint is similar to gray, except for the fact that it can also be useful indoors since it protects against glare from artificial light sources.
- Vermilion: Often used for interior inspections, this tint can improve contrast.
A final consideration for glasses is the shade of the filter. The darkness spectrum ranges from 1.5, which is the lightest, to 14, the darkest. While darker lenses are needed for duties like electric arc welding, lighter shades can be used for activities with less risk of optical radiance, like torch soldering. Of course, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution and select the darkest available lens that won’t inhibit job performance.
As you can see, the world of safety glasses can be overwhelming. With so many different factors to consider, finding the right pair isn’t always a quick and easy task. If you’re seeking safety glasses for your own protection or for your workplace, look no further than Harmony. We have an extensive collection of eye protection available on our website, and if you need assistance deciding which pair is right for you, one of their product specialists will be glad to help.