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Safety Glasses Required In This Area
by Michael Barber

Do I really need safety glasses? That is a question many people ask themselves every day. You may need safety glasses if:

  • your employer requires them
  • your occupation makes the extra protection necessary
  • your hobby makes it a wise choice
  • you dislike pain
  • you never want to audition for the local production of “Pirates of the Caribbean”

According to the National Association to Prevent Blindness, eye injuries are second only to cataracts as a cause of visual impairment in the United States. So it only makes sense to protect the only eyes you have.

Here are list of some occupations and hobbies when considering whether safety glasses are right for you.

Drilling – Whether a drill press, power hand held drill or when metal shavings or wood chips can be created.

Grinding – Again metal, stone, wood sanding or sharpening tools

Welding – Surprisingly, even with the use of a welding hood, material can enter underneath the hood and the eyes need protection. Don’t forget, even that little spot weld that only takes a moment is long enough to ruin your vision for life.

Metal Fabricating – Sheet metal, siding insulation.

Chemical – Splashes can occur when mixing chemicals, liquid fertilizers, herbicides, and paints.

Woodworking – carving, sawing, splitting logs, chopping, and tree trimming.

Gardening – Brush trimming, tree trimming, Roto-tilling.

Car Repairs – Even for the weekend shade tree mechanic! Sparks from batteries, exhaust pipe installations, oil and engine fluids can cause severe damage.

Home Repairs – Everything from using a nail gun to spray painting, insulating ceilings and walls, plumbing and electrical wiring.

Some protection is better than no protection. If you wear prescription glasses, they do provide a small measure of protection. But they are not designed to take many of the impacts that exist with many occupational needs or hobbies. So, what is the difference between dress eyewear and safety wear?

Dress Eyewear

There are no minimum lens thickness requirements. The more center thickness a lens has is the better margin of safety for you.

Any type of lens treatment or tint color is available including driving tints, mirror finishes, variable tints.

Any frame material can be used including exotic woods, horn and plastics.

There are no specific requirements for retaining the lenses into the frame.

Safety Eyewear

There are certain lens thickness requirements to make sure the lenses repel certain impacts.

Mirror coating and special tints should not be used or cannot be processed to meet safety glass standards set by the FDA.

The lenses are required to have the imprint of the manufacturer in the upper temporal side.

The frames must be non-combustible with the frame front (on the inside) must be stamped Z87 as well as the temples. Side shields are recommended for the best possible protection.

With regards to safety eyewear, there are many lens styles and lens options available. Single vision lenses are for those who only need corrective lenses for distance work or specifically for close work. Bifocal lenses are designed for those individuals needing correction for both distance and reading combined into the same pair of glasses. Trifocals offer the same as bifocals but with the addition of intermediate focus ability. Progressive lenses also referred as no line bifocals are computer designed with variable focus at any distance without the interruption of lines. Specialty lenses can be specially designed for applications in computer use, overhead work, and laser and X-ray protection.

For basic impact protection, there are three lens materials available, glass, plastic (CR-39) or Polycarbonate. These materials need to be a minimum of 3 millimeters thick in the center of the lens of maximum protection. Plastic and Polycarbonate are lighter weight than glass whereas glass is more resistant to scratching.

Polycarbonate and Trivex, the newest lens material to enter the eyewear market can be used as high impact lenses which can withstand higher velocity risks. Lens tests are performed in the laboratory where the lenses are processed. All glass lenses are designed to withstand a one inch steel ball weighing 2.4 ounces dropped from 50 inches onto the lens. Plastic and basic impact Polycarbonate lenses are tested in the same manner, but are tested as a batch instead of each individual lens being tested. Lenses in the high impact category must withstand a 17.5 ounce pointed projectile dropped onto the lens from 50 inches. That is more than one pound!

Frames are tested in the same manner. They are combined with the lenses, then mounted onto a special face form designed to tolerate a quarter inch steel ball shot at 150 feet per second (100 miles an hour). There can be no fragments of lens or frame ejected and no contact can be made to the eye orb on the face form.

So, what is so special about prescription safety glasses? You can choose the style and color you like along with incorporating your prescription into the design to suit your specific needs. Superior protection can be added with side shields to offer peripheral protection. Prescription safety glasses are very comfortable and lightweight as well as compliant.

If your eyes don’t require a prescription, there are plenty of plano or non-prescription safety eyewear. Safety eyewear should be worn by people who wear contact lenses or have had LASIK surgery. Many styles are available with wrap around distortion free lenses. Some plano safety eyewear can even be worn over existing prescription eyewear but do require a proper fit to avoid slippage. Sometimes, there may be a need for added protection using goggles, face shields, welding shields and laser safety glasses.

Good cleaning habits will also extend the life of your prescription safety glasses. Always use soap and water or lens cleaner – stay away from ammonia based products. Dry your lenses with lens wipes, cotton cloth or micro fiber cloths. Wash your frames when you wash your hands. Have your metal safety frames inspected for loose screws periodically. Also check the condition of the lenses for pits and deep scratches.

Remember to protect your eyes on the job as well as at home.

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