More Than Just Safety Glasses: Understand Protective Eyewear for the Workplace

More Than Just Safety Glasses: Understand Protective Eyewear for the Workplace

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 eye injuries happen in the workplace every year. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that consistent use of  safety glasses can prevent nearly 90% of eye injuries. Workers in manufacturing, construction, woodworking, laboratories, welding, plumbing, the medical field, and auto industry are required to wear safety glasses to shield their eyes. Risks associated with these jobs are molten sparks, chemical splashes, infectious diseases, flying objects and debris, dust, radiation, etc. Those who engage in DIY projects at home should also use safety eyewear to protect their eyes.

History of Glasses

The first regular eyeglasses were made in Italy in 1286, although their creator’s name is not known. The human eye is sensitive to intense light because it damages the retina if it’s too bright. A famous American inventor P. Johnson patented the Eye Protector in 1880.

First specialized eyewear was developed because there was a need for eye protection in industrial and occupational environments. In 1909, the first safety goggle called SANIGLAS was made by Julius King Optical Company. However, those days eyewear wasn’t seen as being fashionable and even carried some negative connotations, like making people look older.

In the 20 th century, glasses finally became associated with being smart and stylish. Workers in various fields realized that wearing safety glasses is a must to protect their health. In the 1980s, polycarbonate has replaced laminated glass in all safety lenses as a much stronger and lighter material. Today, safety eyewear comes in a wide variety of styles to fit any safety requirements or fashion trends.

If you want to know more about the history of eyewear, the collections held at the Archives and Museum of Optometry include many historical artifacts such as old models of eyeglasses, contact lenses, instruments and tools.

The Difference between Regular and Safety Glasses

What is the difference between regular lenses and frames and those that are safety-rated? The safety lenses are break-proof plastic lenses that protect eyes from flying debris and other risks. Safety frames are more durable and sturdy than regular frames, are made of different shatter-resistant materials, and may include shields on the sides, depending on your specific application. Nylon frames are used for sports eyewear because they are lightweight and flexible. Prescription lenses can be made out of highly break-resistant plastic and/or polycarbonate that can also provide better protection against flying sparks, for example from welding or grinding work. While natural glass can only be tinted in a few colors, plastic eyeglass lenses are easily treated with all kinds of tints.

The ANSI Z87.1-2010 Standard requires that safety glasses must bear permanent markings on the lenses and the frames. All high-impact lenses must have the manufacturers’ mark, followed by a + sign in the upper/outer corner. To be considered ANSI-compliant safety glasses, all prescription safety lenses must be in frames that are marked "Z87-2+".

There are 3 main types of lens materials you can choose from. The table below shows the differences between them, so it is easier for you to select the ones you need for your application.

Types of Lenses

Glass Lenses Plastic Lenses Polycarbonate Lenses
  • Not easily scratched
  • Can be used around harsh chemicals
  • Sometimes heavy and uncomfortable
  • Lighter in weight
  • Protect against welding splatter
  • Not likely to fog
  • Not as scratch-resistant as glass
  • Lightweight
  • Protect against welding splatter
  • Not likely to fog
  • Stronger than glass and plastic
  • More impact-resistant than glass or plastic
  • Not as scratch-resistant as glass

Take a look at the latest protective eyewear items that will help you keep your workers’ eyes safe on a day-to-day basis, and keep you in line with safety protocols. Here are a couple of great safety glasses from JSP and MCR Safety. MCR Safety Glasses The MCR Safety Dominator 3 Glasses that won the OHS New Product of the Year 2016 Award are a great addition to your head protection safety wear. These glasses’ unique feature includes adjustable nose pads and temples to fit most facial profiles. The Dominator™ 3 glasses are available with MAX3™ scratch-resistant coating which provides three times greater resistance, MAX6™ anti-fog coating that offers six times greater fog-resistance, or BOSSMAN™ mirror lens coatings. The Dominator™ 3 glasses meet or exceed Z87+ and Military High-Velocity Impact standards.

Hard Hat with Glasses

A great idea to keep safety glasses safe and available was implemented by JSP engineers. The EvoSpec™ Safety Eyewear is engineered to be used in conjunction Evolution Deluxe Hard Hats. You can conveniently snap them on and off easily, and the glasses retract inside your hard hat when you do not need them. Ultraviolet protection has been incorporated into the polycarbonate lens material when the lenses were manufactured. They meet ANSI Z87.1- 2010 requirements and can block 99.99% of harmful UV sun rays. You can choose clear, indoor/outdoor mirrored, or gray lenses for different types of applications.

To learn more about any of these eye protection products, call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online:


Nov 30th 2017 Mila Adamovica

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