Understanding the Standards for Safety Glasses

November 16, 2015

Most workplace injuries will eventually heal. However, if your eyes sustain serious damage at work, the consequences can be long-lasting and devastating. Fortunately, protective eyeglasses can defend your eyes from workplace dangers. Just how much damage can you expect safety glasses to prevent? Quite a lot, depending on the tests each pair has passed.

We at Nutech Safety have provided a quick overview for you on some of the industry standards to see how to choose the best glasses for the protection you need:

Testing Safety Glasses
Because they need to protect one of your most crucial senses – your vision – safety glasses are held to rigorous standards. Not all glasses are subjected to every test, so read the label carefully to see which test each pair has passed. Some tests your glasses might have been subjected to include these:

High-Mass Impact Test
To determine whether the safety lenses can withstand impact from a heavy object, they are mounted on a frame and placed on an object shaped and built like a real human head. A steel projectile one inch in diameter is dropped from 50 inches above the lens. If the glasses don’t shatter after this intense impact, they pass the test, meaning your eyes will be completely safe from dangerous and heavy flying debris.

High-Velocity Impact Test
In this test, a steel ball flying at 150 feet per second is blasted at the lens and frame from just 10 inches away. This test is repeated on the lenses and frames at different angles to make sure the glasses could withstand impact from fast-moving objects at any angle. Safety glasses that pass this test keep you safe from flying objects traveling at a high speed, like a sharp piece of gravel kicked up by machinery.

Durability Tests
Just as safety glasses need to resist impact by heavy and fast moving objects, they also need to stand up under any of the most rigorous working conditions. Most glasses must pass both flammability and corrosion tests to prove they can keep you safe under pressure. If you solder or weld, these glasses can handle the heat.

Interpreting Standard Markings
Before you can decide which pair of glasses is right for your specific working conditions, it’s helpful to understand what other standards your glasses might be held to. While all glasses are held to certain standards, their more specific markings can indicate what each pair is uniquely suited to. Most of these regulations were established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a non-profit organization committed to workplace safety. Check for these standard markings on whatever pair of glasses you’re eyeing:

Performance Categories
Safety lenses are sorted into two categories of performance: basic (marked by the code “Z87”) and high impact (marked by the code “Z87+”). Make sure to understand which category will best suit your workplace environment when looking at glasses. Regardless of specification, all glasses must pass the drop-ball test, which means that the lenses and frames won’t shatter when a small ball is dropped on them (rather than shot, like in a high-velocity impact test). Only glasses marked as high impact have passed the high-velocity impact test.

Prescription vs. Non-Prescription Lenses
Prescription lenses are often structurally stronger than non-prescription lenses. Thinner prescription lenses are becoming the norm, though, which means that regardless of if you have a prescription or not, your glasses should stand up under stress.

V and S Markings
If a pair of glasses is marked with a “V,” the lenses are photochromatic, which means the lenses will darken when exposed to sunlight and lighten when indoors. If the glasses are marked with an “S,” the lenses have been tinted. A number may accompany the “S” to distinguish the level of tint applied to the lenses.

Up to 90% of eye injuries can be prevented by using the proper safety eyewear. Make sure to always check the specific markings on the glasses you’re considering to make sure the pair you want has passed the right safety tests for your workplace’s specific hazards. Don’t risk losing your eyesight in a preventable accident – spare your eyes from irreparable damage with safety glasses from Nutech Safety instead!