What Type Of Eye Protection Is Best?
No matter the type or style of eye protection, workers should always wear equipment that meets American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z87.1-2010.4 Safety eyewear that meets Z87 is tested and must pass stringent requirements for basic mass impact (a 1" steel ball dropped from 50"), high mass impact (a 500g pointed projectile dropped from 50"), high velocity impact (a ¼" BB shot at 150–300 ft/sec), distortion, light transmittance, and lens thickness (not for impact rated protectors) among others. Safety eyewear that passes all the tests will carry the Z87+ mark in addition to marks for lens type and use applications. After this the next rule is the old cliché—the right tool for the job. The type of eye protection must match the hazard and there are definitely more appropriate types for certain hazards. Polycarbonate lens safety glasses are the most prevalent type of eye protection.
Polycarbonate is a type of plastic that offers extreme resistance to impact due to unique properties of strength and flexibility. Used in “bulletproof” windows in addition to safety glasses and many other applications, it provides excellent protection from flying debris and ultraviolet light (UV) while being lightweight. However, because its impact resistance comes from being flexible the material is prone to scratching. So look for safety glasses with hard-coated polycarbonate lenses.
Safety glasses come in every shape and style imaginable. Well-designed products will be lightweight, comfortable, and economical. Also important is a good fit. Keys to look for are soft rubber nosepieces and adjustable, rubber-tipped temples that hold well without excessive pressure. Soft, sticky rubber in these areas provides good grip even when sweating.