Your eyes are essential to every activity in daily life, so keeping them from harm is naturally, a top priority for everyone. When you are on the job in a dangerous work environment, it can make the odds of doing harm to your eyes spike significantly.
That is why itâ€™s so crucial to take the proper measures to protect your eyes in those dangerous environments. Obviously, weâ€™re talking about safety glasses to protect your eyes, but with so many different styles and features how do you know what is actually safe?
Sure, there are a lot of glasses out there that claim to be â€œsafety glassesâ€ or sufficient for industrial environmentsâ€”but are they? How can you know if what youâ€™re getting is indeed going to protect your eyes from different hazards?
ANSI Standardsâ€”Keeping Things Uniform Since 1918
That’s where ANSI standards come inâ€” ANSI stands for American National Standards Institute. They establish and oversee conformity standards for many industries across a broad spectrum.
So what does that mean in plain English? It means that they develop standards of structure, quality, and performance among other attributes, that products must meet to be ANSI certified.
They have no legal authority, rather manufacturers and partners voluntarily conform their products to these standards as it benefits them and their respective industry. How, you ask?
Well, letâ€™s take safety glasses as a prime example. Without ANSI standards, a company can claim its cheap, thin plastic glasses are â€œsafety glasses.â€
However, if someone gets a rock thrown from a weedeaterâ€”those glasses arenâ€™t stopping a thing. Not really a value when youâ€™re missing an eye now, is it?
However, another company such as Wiley X, offers safety glasses as well. Now, theirs are plastic too, but what makes this plastic different? Simpleâ€”itâ€™s got that ANSI Z87.1 certification. Now, thatâ€™s still not what makes them different, what it takes to get certified though is.
When you see Z87.1 on safety glasses it means that it meets the ANSI standard referred to by the Z87.1. This ANSI standard is used to ensure that safety glasses offer the necessary protection against impact hazards such as flying debris.
How Is ANSI Z87.1 Certification Earned?
Now, it would be all too easy for an eyewear maker to just slap that ANSI Z87.1 on the frame and call it a dayâ€”but they canâ€™t do thatâ€”legally that is. That certification requires specific testing by ANSI labs to prove the glasses meet the standards set by their consortium.
Safety glasses must undergo the Drop Ball Impact Test. This test involves dropping a steel ball that is approximately 2.4oz and one inch in diameter from a height of just over 4 feet onto the glasses. If the lens and the frame remain uncompromised and intactâ€”it passes.
However, the Z87.1 is only one standard among others in the safety glasses industry. Thereâ€™s also Z87-2+ which takes the Z87.1 standards and adds the requirement the lenses be prescription.
ANSI Z87 standards are crucial to the safety eyewear industry because it ensures that an ANSI-certified product meets minimum qualifications for impact resistance, optical clarity, UV protection, and fit.
Even though ANSI standards are voluntary, the research shows that consumers WANT those standards to feel safe about their eyewear. Finding quality safety glasses that arenâ€™t ANSI certified is very rare, in fact, most reputable manufacturers like Wiley X, meet or surpass ANSI requirements.
Benefits Of Requiring ANSI-Certified Glasses
As far as the workplace goes, providing your workers with protective eyewear that is ANSI Z87 and/or Z87-2+ certified offer many different advantages:
UV Ray Protection: Prolonged exposure to UV rays without proper eye protection alters lens proteins which leads to the formation of cataracts and possibly cancers of the eyelid. Additionally, UV rays affect all parts of the eye aging them at a faster than normal rate. These standards can ensure that users are adequately protected against harmful exposure to UV rays.
Guarding Against Infrared Radiation: In workplaces where there is greater exposure to infrared radiation such as a welding shop, ANSI Z87-2+ certified safety glasses prevent the effects of this exposure such as increasing lens opacity, swelling of the eye, or hemorrhaging.
Impact Resistance: One of the most common eye injuries in the workplace is the result of flying debris to the eyeball. There are so many industries where this is a prevalent risk, from landscaping to construction to fabrication plants. ANSI Z87 certified eyewear has lenses that are impact-resistant and frames that can protect from the side as well.
Enhanced Visibility: One of the best ways to avoid preventable eye injuries at work is to have uncompromised vision. ANSI-certified protective eyewear is designed in such a way as to give a wide field of vision and superior optical clarity lenses.
Optimal Comfort: While not a measured indicator of ANSI standards, making eyewear that is comfortable and easy to wear through the workday is crucial. Lightweight, yet strong frames that are ergonomically designed make encourages one to wear the glasses at all times. Most, if not all ANSI certified safety glasses include these comfort characteristics.
You donâ€™t necessarily need eyewear that has every single measure of protection. You just need to find what works best for you.
Seeking The Right Protective Eyewear For Your Needs Is Key
When searching for the right pair of ANSI-certified safety glasses for you, several key things will shape your choice.
First and foremost is knowing the proper protective lens type that best meets the demands of your job and environment. There are three different lenses to choose from:
Clear: Offers the best in optical clarity while still providing protection from flying debris and other potential impact risks. These lenses work best in indoor environments and low-light situations.
Tinted: These lenses offer much better protection against sunlight and bright artificial lights such as on a concert stage.
Photochromic: A hybrid of clear and tinted, uses advanced technology to automatically darken when exposed to bright lights or sunlight.
Next, you want to think about the frame style. This comes down to personal comfort as each work environment is different.
Half-frame glasses rest lower on your nose and provide excellent coverage for upper facial regions.
Full-frame glasses offer the most complete protection from debris. Unlike half-frame glasses, full-frame ones protect the entire face.
Frameless lenses provide full face protection from debris; while frameless lenses allow the widest field of vision but provide less coverage against debris.
Before purchasing safety glasses, you must consider what activities they will be used for and what hazards are present. For example, if youâ€™re routinely in an outdoor environment such as working on a pipelineâ€” UV protection and oleophobic/hydrophobic features are what youâ€™ll need. On the flip side, when working in low-light indoor conditions where flying debris might occurâ€”clear, Z87 lenses are in order.
We Only Carry ANSI-certified Safety Glasses
When you need the largest selection of safety glasses guaranteed to give you the highest levels of protectionâ€”contact Blue Collar Optics and get protected.