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Eye Protection Technical Information

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Basics of... Eye Protection
Glasses Goggles Face Shield


According to OSHA 1910.133 - Employers shall ensure that each employee uses appropriate eye or face protection (including side protection) when exposed to eye or face hazards which include flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.

This includes employees who wear prescription lenses while engaged in operations that involve eye hazards. The user must wear eye protection that incorporates the prescription in the design, or wear eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription or the protective lenses.

Protective eye and face devices shall comply with ANSI Z87.1 “American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection�?. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should also wear appropriate protective eyewear.

Safety Glasses

Many styles of protective safety glasses are available. Look for safety glasses that offer full coverage of the entire orbital eye area. Some safety glasses are available in an OTG(over-the-glass) version where the user needs to wear protection over their own personal prescription glasses. Many safety glasses have custom fitting features, like adjustable nose bridges and temples, which provide added comfort and enhanced fitting. Eyewear compliance is greatly improved when the right combination of style, comfort and fitting is achieved.

Safety glasses can be easily identified. Look for ANSI Z87.1 markings on the frame or temples, the manufacturer’s mark (e.g., 3M is the mark used by 3M) and a (+) sign to identify protective eyewear that meets the high impact standards set forth in ANSI Z87.1-2003.

Base Curve: back curvature of the lens. The higher the base curve, the more curvature there is in a lens. To maintain good optics, the thickness of the lens material varies from location to location on the curve of the lens. As a result, the light that passes through the lens does not have prismatic imbalance.As an example: a traditional ′′basic′′ safety glass has a base curve of 4, which is fairly flat; hence the need for the sharp curves on the temple ends to meet ANSI side shield requirements. Newer designs incorporate higher base curves, creating better optics and reduced distortion. Due to the increased curvature of the lens it wraps more around the face, eliminating the need for sideshields. Glasses with a higher base curve have a tendency to look sportier and more stylish, therefore have an increased acceptance by the wearer.

Aspheric Lenses

  • Helps reduce distortion out to edges of lens
  • Thinner thus lighter
  • Flatter curves reduces bulging

Most safety glasses are available with either a hard coating to protect the surfaces of the lens and to help prevent premature scratching, or other coatings that may have anti-fog, anti-scratch, anti-static and anti-UV properties.

Safety lenses are available in a variety of tints for specific workplace applications:

  • Clear: for use in general purpose applications
  • Yellow (Contrast Amber): use when sharpness, acuity and contrast are needed and to block high intensity blue lighting such as UV. Good for working outdoors at dawnand dusk. Good for hazy and overcast days
  • Red (Vermillion): absorbs green light. Sharpens visual acuity and provides a contrast similar to the contrast amber lens. Some people prefer vermillion to amber, whenchoosing a lens to sharpen visual acuity. Good for inspection work, i.e. circuit boards, miniature components, assembly items, etc. because defects can be seen better
  • Green/IR Shade: blocks red/infrared (IR) light. Can be used any place where there is heat. Good for metal working, furnace work etc.
  • Gray/Silver Mirror/Blue Mirror: reduces glare and bright light. Good for outdoor applications where a task specific lens is not required
  • Indoor/Outdoor Mirror: tones everything down and provides excellent vision in both indoor and outdoor lighting. Allows a person to wear the same pair of safetyglasses both indoors and outdoors
  • Polarized: designed for outdoor use where reflective glare from water, snow, cement and other hard surfaces exist

In certain applications the use of a full-face shield is required to protect the entire face and eyes. Always wear safety glasses underneath a face shield.


There are work environments that require the use of goggles. Goggles are available for protection from impact and particulates and for chemical and non-hazadarous splash.


  • Direct Vent: protects your eyes from impact and particulates. They offer excellent circulation around the eyes to prevent goggle from fogging. They are not to be used where the chance of chemical splash can occur
  • Indirect Vent: protects your eyes from airborne particulates and chemical splash. The vents are designed to allow for adequate ventilation yet designed to protect the wearer from liquids entering the eye area
  • Ventless: allows the wearer to be protected from impacts, airborne particulates and chemical splash and fumes. Since there are no vents to allow for adequate air circulation, this form of protection discourages the wearing of them for long periods of time