Understanding and choosing the right pair of safety glasses

Did you know that thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries because they lacked the proper safety glasses? (OSHA) In addition, more than 90 percent of workplace eye injuries are preventable through the use of proper eye protection. It’s estimated that eye injuries cost companies a staggering $934 million annually (Prevent Blindness). Without a doubt, I think it’s safe to say it’s worth the $2-$15+ average safety glasses cost. To not only protect your crews eyesight but also to reduce the risk of costs incurred if something goes wrong unexpectedly.

Under OSHA requirements, as an employer you must ensure the safety of your employees when they’re in hazardous work environments. Hazardous work environments come in many different forms across many industries. From construction sites, contractors, landscapers and arborists to pipeline, utilities, public works and manufacturing facility workers. Thus, this requires eye and face protection that will protect against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants and hazards. Maybe you know this and that’s why you’re here.

You’ve looked online, you’ve done your research, you’ve even gone to a local hardware store.
Are you even more unsure of what you need with all the options?

Clear lenses, yellow lenses, red lenses, padded, goggle, rimless…yikes! Where do you even begin?

That’s where MC Tool & Safety comes in! We’re here to help and in this post I will help you narrow your search for the right pair of safety glasses for the job. I will talk about some of the differences in safety glasses as well as some of the main questions to ask when choosing the right pair to set you off in the right (a little less befuddled) direction.

Fabrication Carpenter Safety Glasses

Understanding the Different Classes of Safety Glasses

First, let’s start with the basics. The ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015 standard is organized by hazard types: chemical, heat, impact, dust and optical radiation. The ANSI safety eyewear standard encourages the evaluation of jobsite or environmental hazards you may be exposed to. Therefore, that evaluation will help you choose the best safety eyewear for the job you have at hand. First and foremost, you need to know your job and environment to know your hazards. Then we can move on.

Class Types:

1: Spectacles/Safety Glasses – incorporates side protection and fit snug along your eyebrows & cheek bones keeping large particles out.

2: Goggles – this type will hug your face with no gaps. They will keep large particles out as well as the small particles like dust and liquids.

3: Welding Helmet – provides radiation and impact protection.

4: Welding Hand Shield – provides radiation and impact protection.

5: Hood – this type has a few different sub-classes depending on the job.
-Impact-resistant window, 5A.
-Dust, splash, and abrasive materials protection, 5B.
-Radiation protection, 5C.
-High-heat applications, 5D.

6: Face Shield – a face shield has a transparent window or visor to shield your face and eyes from impact, splash, heat, or glare. This type has a few different sub-classes depending on the job.
-Impact, piercing, splash, head, and glare protection, 6A.
-Similar to 6A but with a thicker shield for radiation protection. Also for low heat, splash, glare, and light, non-piercing impact protection, 6B.
-High-heat applications and light, non-piercing impact protection (usually has wire screen windows), 6C.

7: Respirator Facepiece – this type has a few different sub-classes depending on the job.
-Impact and splash protection, 7A.
-Radiation protection, 7B.
-Loose-fitting hoods or helmets, 7C.
-Radiation protection loose-fitting hoods or helmets, 7D.

(IHSA.CA, Eye Protection manual)

Understanding What Causes Eye Injuries

Eye injuries can come unexpectedly from various sources such as saw dust on a construction site to a chemical splash in a manufacturing facility. However, you can plan ahead and lessen your risk and knowing the category risks is an essential part in your planning process. There are 3 main categories of eye injury:

First, is strike or scraping of the eye; the majority of eye injuries take place are in this category. Particles of dust, metal, cement chips, and wood chips are all materials that would scrape the eye.

Second, is penetration of the eye. Materials that may penetrate the eye would be nails, staples or slivers of wood or metal. This category has the highest likelihood of permanent eye damage.

Third, is splashing of the eye. This category can be splashing of liquid hazards to sparks from welding.

Questions to Ask When Choosing Safety Eyewear

Next, you need to ask yourself some questions, because choosing proper safety glasses takes careful consideration. There are many variables to consider whereas some come down to user preference. No matter what the job is, asking these questions can help you choose the right pair.

  1. Is there required eyewear standards?
  2. Protection concern – against dust or splash?
  3. What’s the environment? How much UV protection is needed?
  4. Is fogging a potential issue?
  5. How long will the eyewear be worn?
  6. Would magnification be useful?
  7. Does the worker already wear glasses?
  8. Will these be used for welding or around flash?
  9. What’s the shape of the face of the person wearing them?
    • Square face: top-heavy frames
    • Heart face: narrow frames
    • Oval face: square & angled frames
    • Pear face: top-heavy frames
    • Round face: angular squared frames

Altogether, when you take the answers to the questions above you’ll be able to begin narrowing your search.

Anti Fog Lens Comparison

Does Safety Glass Lens Color Actually Matter?

The answer is yes! Safety glasses will not only protect your eyes from jobsite hazards but also lens color will improve your eyesight depending on the environment of the job.

Choosing the Right Safety Glass Lens Color

Blue Lenses:

This lenses color will help improve your color contrast and reduce glare. Also, if you’re working indoors they also reduce the yellow tint of indoor artificial light. They are best suited for jobs:

  • outdoors: when you need to see a subject against greenery (like trees in the background) such as at a shooting range or playing baseball on a cloudy day.
  • indoors: when you’re working on a jobsite with artificial lighting such as a warehouse or an indoor construction site.
Grey Lenses:

Among the most common lens color is the grey lens. The grey lens is also known as your typical “sunglasses” tint. They will limit the amount of light pass-through as well as help with glare conditions. Grey lens safety glasses are ideal for outdoor bright conditions. Therefore, you will find this lens most common among construction and general contractors.

Yellow & Amber Lenses:

Yellow & amber lenses work by blocking blue light and just like the blue lens they help to add contrast. This tint works by adding contrast between objects so you can see the task at hand without struggle. These lenses are perfect for low light on cloudy dreary outdoor jobsite days or during the mid-west snowy days. As a result you will find this lens most common for professional drivers in foggy, rainy & snowy conditions. Additionally, they are popular among range shooters and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

Clear Lenses:

These are the safety glass you want if you need simple eye protection. They provide maximum visual clarity and are best suited for indoor or low light jobs. To clarify, clear lenses do not adjust your eyesight in regards to contrast or color improvement. They are simply used protect you from the small particles like dust, cement, wood chips, penetration of materials such as nails, and light splashing of liquids. You will find this clear lens most helpful in any general purpose, indoor setting.

Red Lenses:

One of the lesser common safety glass lens is the red lens. These lenses help to reduce green tinted light, minimize extreme bright light conditions while enhancing contrast by reducing color equally. Therefore, the red lens will sharpen visual acuity and color recognition. You will find the red lens most helpful in indoor inspection jobs.

Green Lenses:

Finally in our lens colors we come to the green lens. Green lens safety glasses help brighten shadowy areas, reduces glare and will even color distribution.
For this reason, you will find the green lens most helpful among forestry, arborists, welding, brazing and cutting.

Additional Safety Glass Considerations

Once you’ve narrowed your search, we can dive deeper into more specific details. In addition, there are a few other details you should also consider when making your final choice(s):

• Ability of the safety glasses to protect you against specific workplace hazards.
• Do the safety glasses fit properly and will they be comfortable to wear.
• Safety glasses must provide unrestricted vision and movement.
• Safety glasses should be durable and cleanable.
• They should not interfere with or restrict the function other required PPE you or your crew wear.

Above all, know that when you’re fitting safety glasses the frames should fit close to your face without hitting your eyelashes. Additionally, lenses should cover your eyebrows and any soft tissue around your eyes. The space around the frames and your face should be less than a pencil width.
IMPORTANT: A proper fit of safety glasses is as important as wearing them.


Quick Help Guide by Industry

In general, here are our top recommendations for safety glasses by industry. Although, some situations may require a different pair. With this in mind be sure you refer back to the previously mentioned information and questions above when making your decision.

ArboristUVex Stealth Safety Goggles
Carpentry Klondike Clear Lens Safety Glasses
Construction (Indoor) –  Clear Lens Ergodyne Skullerz Safety Glasses
Construction (Outdoor) –  Nemasis Safety Glasses
Contractors Klondike Clear Lens Safety Glasses
FabricationRadians Mirage Foam Lined
LandscapingRadians Journey or the Radians Mirage Foam Lined
LinemanRadians RAD-Apocalypse
Manufacturing Facility –  Clear Lens Ergodyne Skullerz Safety Glasses
PaintersPIP Zenon Amber or Clear Lens or the Ergodyne DAGR Yellow Lens
Public WorksRadians Journey
Snow PlowPyramex PMExtreme Yellow Lens
UtilitiesRadians RAD-Apocalypse
WeldingHoneywell Pipeliner Passive Welding Helmet

In summary, there are many choices out there. Do your research, know your environment and the hazards, refer to the answers from the previously mentioned questions and you can easily go from there. Or, as your local safety experts, give us a call if you’re unsure and we’re happy walk through the options and find the right pair of safety glasses for you and your crew.

Take your PPE wear seriously because it can save your life!
Lastly, read more about PPE in our other blog posts. 



To get everyone home safe, give us a call now at 763-786-5350, or toll-free at 888-206-2569.

Choosing the Right Safety Glasses