How to Choose the Right Safety Glasses for Your Needs

By: CableOrganizer®

safety glasses

Safety glasses are essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in many industries and workplace settings. It is important to protect the eyes from various hazards in occupational and leisure activities. Emergency situations, general prevention of eye injuries and blindness, and maintaining overall optimal eye health, are among the reasons people put on protective eyewear. They may also wear them to cover their eyes against chemicals, safeguard them from UV rays, comply with safety regulations, and reduce injuries in the workplace. PPE glasses are designed to increase productivity because they lessen distractions and enhance comfort with features such as anti-fog capabilities. Some recreational pastimes and sports may also call for specialty protective glasses to prevent injuries and improve performance.



The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 18,510 workplace-related eye injuries occurred in 2020, representing 1.7 cases per 10,000 full-time employees within the United States. That year was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with 61% of Americans then working remotely in May 2020, a number that is currently around 30%, according to published reports. Yet eye injuries were only 10.5% less in the pre-pandemic days of 2019, when only 4.7% worked from home. The cause of most of the 2020 incidents (59.6%) were from foreign debris entering workers’ eyes. Airborne objects were responsible for 35.6% of the injuries. Whatever scenario where these injuries occurred, it is imperative for workers to wear safety eyewear when it is needed, and to do so correctly. Some of the common workplace settings where they are worn include:

  • • Manufacturing and Industrial Plants: Machinery, chemicals, and high-velocity impacts can potentially cause eye injuries in these facilities.
  • • Laboratories: Scientists, researchers, and technicians need glasses to safeguard their eyes from fumes, chemical splashes, and more.
  • • Construction Sites: Flying debris, dust, and similar hazards require eye protection when a project is in full swing.
  • • Electrical Work: Electricians need non-conductive safety glasses with materials that can interrupt an electrical current’s flow. This type of eyewear tends to be high-impact, anti-fog, scratch-proof, and tinted or polarized.
  • • Welding Shop: Specialty eyeglasses are necessary around welding sparks, light, and heat.
  • • Automotive Repair Locations: Mechanics and automotive technicians often wear protective glasses to guard their eyes from flying debris, oil splashes, and other hazards.
  • • Carpentry Shops and Job Sites: Safety glasses are helpful when sanding, cutting, and assembling wooden items. They also shield from sawdust, wood chips, and airborne particles.
  • • Healthcare and Medical Facilities: Glasses can deflect blood, fluid, and other hazards, that healthcare workers — from doctors to dental assistants — may be exposed to.

Protective eyewear should not just be worn for work-related activities. It is recommended DIYers put them on when painting, woodworking, or using power tools. Impact resistant glasses work well for people mowing their lawns, gardening, or working on other outdoor projects, to keep their eyes protected from dirt and projectile objects. There are various activities where specialty eyewear is recommended, like racquet sports, games with flying balls or bats, cycling, and more.



There are some things you should consider before choosing eye safety gear for work, recreational activities, or other tasks, including:

  • • The hazard you’ll be confronted with, whether it is airborne debris, dust, chemical splashes, or UV radiation.
  • • Ensuring the safety glasses you choose comply with industry safety standards for face and eye protection.
  • • Picking your lens material based on your activity. An impact resistance lens is essential for some hazards, while lenses with optical clarity are necessary for others. Tinted lenses protect from UV radiation, and polarized lenses reduce glare. Some eyewear have anti-fog and anti-scratch features.
  • • • Selecting frames with materials appropriate for your activities. A durable eyeglass frame is a must-have when there is a risk of impact. Materials like nylon and polycarbonate — non-conductive to avert electrical shock — are preferable when working with electricity.
  • • Assessing the construction of the safety glasses you choose. Some tasks may call for side shields, including removable types, to safeguard your eyes against lateral hazards.
  • • Choosing glasses that fit comfortably. Adjustable features like nose pads, nose bridges or earpieces may be helpful in some cases.



Glasses and goggles each have distinct characteristics. Protective glasses may sometimes, but not always, look like traditional eyewear comprised of a frame and two separate lenses. That style safeguards the eyes from frontal hazards like splashes, dust, and aerial debris. But there are other types of protective glasses that have more of a wraparound goggle appearance, with shields on the top or sides. These provide protection to the eyes from objects that head into the eyes sideways or from above. Safety glasses are ventilated to prevent fogging and feature unobstructed peripheral vision. This type of safety eyewear is usually designed for extended wear and comfort. Some are made to be placed over prescription eyeglasses.

Safety goggles are constructed of a single piece of material sealing around the front and sides of the eyes, which may impact peripheral vision. They are not designed for long wear and are typically not as comfortable as glasses. These can safeguard against an array of hazards, from chemicals to particulates. Minimal ventilation in some pairs averts fogging. There are goggles made to slip over prescription eyewear like safety glasses do.

Goggles could be preferable to protective glasses when there is exposure to hazardous fumes or liquids, because they create a seal around the eyes. They are more suitable to wear in very dusty environments than glasses. High-impact hazards, sports, metalworking and welding, and some healthcare careers may call for goggles instead of safety glasses.



ANSI Z87.1 is the standard that companies within the United States (or outside of the country for products intended for sale within the U.S.) typically and voluntarily follow when manufacturing safety eyewear. ANSI is an acronym for the American National Standards Institute, the private not-for-profit entity that develops these guidelines. This organization collaborates with OSHA, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is a government agency and arm of the United States Department of Labor that creates, sets, and enforces workplace safety standards for U.S. employers.

How does ANSI differ from OSHA? ANSI standards are consensus-based because they are developed by stakeholders in various fields; and assist in the development of safety regulations. OSHA is a federal agency that may refer to ANSI standards within specific workplace health and safety regulations it sets. Employers must follow OSHA standards, which are legally binding and enforceable. Both groups confer with one another on the most current health and safety questions to develop best practices, with OSHA possibly reaching out to ANSI and other standard-setting entities when developing or revising regulations. ANSI offers educational resources and guidance on practices and standards. OSHA provides education and training for workers on safety subjects. Employers often use ANSI training to meet OSHA requirements. OSHA also recognizes PPE that meet ANSI guidelines.

Protective glasses that follow ANSI Z87.1 call for particular guidelines, with ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020 the most current update. ISEA stands for the International Safety Equipment Association, which was previously called the Industrial Safety Equipment Association. Eyewear that adheres to the standard is marked with ANSI Z87.1+. These glasses endure high-velocity and high-mass impact tests to develop tough impact resistance. They are made to withstand temperature fluctuations, humidity, flame resistance, and other threats. PPE of this type offers protection from hazardous substances, chemical splashes, and droplets. There is also shielding against small particles, dust, and airborne debris. Safety glasses with ANSI Z87.1+ defenses offer safety lenses that armor against UV (Ultraviolet) Radiation. The ANSI Z87.1 standard provides guidance on Infrared (IR) protection for this variety of glasses in welding and similar fields where workers are exposed to IR. A minimum coverage area is additionally addressed within these guidelines for eyes to be enveloped from the eyebrows to the cheeks, and from the bridge of the nose to the sides of the face.

Shop at CableOrganizer® for safety eyewear, PPE, and a full selection of safety equipment.

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