Your Account

What Type of Eye Protection Do Your Workers Need?

Understanding the type of eye protection a worker needs goes hand in hand with knowing what contributes to and/or causes eye injuries, as well as how they can be prevented.

Eye Protection

Eye injuries can happen as a result of striking or scraping, penetration of a foreign objectas well as chemical or thermal burns(also known as welder's eye). Injuries that are the result of striking or scraping happen when particles or objects become airborne from tools ejecting them, flying objects, or falling from above and as a result either strike or scrape the eye. Whereas penetration is when items including nails, staples or other objects go through the eyeball and can lead to permanent vision loss.

Lastly chemicals or cleaning products can splash causing burns. A majority of these injuries can be prevented by wearing the proper PPE. The right choice is based on the specific work you are performing, the hazards you will encounter, and your own vision needs. Speaking with an Arbill Safety Advisorcan help you find the best solution for your situation.

In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 15,730 eye non-fatal eye injuries in the private industry. Those injuries ranged from superficial eye injuries to the types of severe trauma that can cause permanent damage, vision loss, and blindness.

Today's safety glasses come with sleek, stylish options and technologies that allow for a better, more comfortable fit. That means more consistent, correct wear, for better protection.

3M Secure Fit 100 Series

3M™ SecureFit™ 100 Series

  • Sleek, sporty lens shape
  • Patented temple design self-adjusts to different head sizes
  • Stylish yet comfortable fit for an extended period of time.

3M SecureFit 500 Series

3M™ SecureFit™ 500 Series

  • Pressure Diffusion Temple (PDT)
  • Self-adjusting temples, Scotchgard™ Protector Anti-fog coating.

3M SecureFit 3700 SeriesAlready wearing glasses? 
Get over-the-glass protection and all-day wearability with the 3M™ SecureFit™ 3700 Series with adjustable ratcheting temple provides a personalized fit.

OSHA reports that workplace eye injuries cost an estimated $300 million a year in lost productivity, medical treatment, and worker compensation and that 90% of eye injuries are preventable.

Understanding Impact Requirements

ANSI has established the Z87 standardwhich is used for safety glasses, safety goggles, side shields and other eye and face protection devices. According to the ANSI website, this standard sets forth criteria related to the general requirements, testing, permanent marking, selection, care, and use of protectors to minimize the occurrence and severity or prevention of injuries from such hazards as impact, non-ionizing radiation and liquid splash exposures in occupational and educational environments including, but not limited to, machinery operations, material welding and cutting, chemical handling, and assembly operations.

Z87 vs. Z87+ Standard

The Z87 designation means that the eyewear has been tested for regular impact, and the Z87+ measures high impact, and is what sets it apart from the Z87 standard.

For eye protection to pass Z87+, the lens, frames, and all components must remain intact after undergoing a series of tests, including a high mass test and a high-velocity test.

  • High Mass Testing puts the glasses on a head form and drops a 1.2-pound weight from a height of fifty inches.
  • High-Velocity Testing shoots a one-fourth inch steel ball at various places. The speed will change depending on the glasses being tested with safety glasses = 102mph and safety goggles = 170mph to simulate impacts workers could face. To pass this test, the lens cannot touch the eye when the steel ball is striking it.
  • Penetration/Puncture Testing places a 1.56 oz sharp needle mounted to a weighted projectile and drops it from a test height of fifty inches.

The Z87+ tests are an indicator of the strength of the product and its ability to protect the worker from a variety of workplace accidents like tools falling, collision with an object or airborne particles.

Prescription frames rated for impact protection will have the Z87-2+ marking.

Use Markings

Eyewear may have use markings indicating droplet and dust protection. Lenses that meet this requirement will have a “D” followed by a number: 

  • D3– resistant to droplet & splash
  • D4– resistant to dust
  • D5– resistant to fine dust

Lens Designations and Markings

In addition to the above Z87 and Use Markings, your safety glasses may contain designations that indicate the following:

U– uncoated

I/O– indoor/outdoor

AS– anti-scratch

SGAF/AS: Scotchguard™ anti-fog coating/anti-scratch lens

Base Curve– a higher base curve provides greater wraparound protection and peripheral vision; a high base curve may eliminate the need for side shields

“L”+ a number (1.3 to 10) – the Visible Light Filter rating

“R”+ a number (1.3 to 10) – the Infrared Filter rating

“V”– variable tint (or transition) lens designation

“S”– special purpose lens designation

“U”+ a number (2 to 6) – the Ultraviolet light scale rating

“W”+ a number (1.3 to 14) – a welding designation, including the lens shade number and the extent to which a welding lens will filter harmful radiation

“H”– coverage for small heads


Optional Enhancements/Features

  • Lens Color
  • UV Protection
  • Anti-fog/Anti-scratch
  • Articulating / Ratcheting Temples
  • Flexible Nose Bridge
  • Brow Guard
  • Foam Insert / Strap
  • Dielectric
  • Alternate fit models to accommodate various facial structures

Training and Education

To ensure employee safety, it is important that employers establish a clear written policy and appropriately train employees on the proper use of and when eyewear should be worn.

  • Conduct a site / hazard assessment
  • Develop a plan that is site-specific
  • Establish the proper eye protection based on the application
  • Conduct fit testing to ensure proper fit and that there are no gaps or exposed areas
  • Teach employees what PPE they are required to wear and when
  • Train employees how to thoroughly inspect and maintain their PPE
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommended use and warnings
  • Promptly replace damaged or missing eye protection

Contact Arbill EH&S Managed Services for help with site assessment and gap analysis, PPE matrix development, safety consulting and training augmentation as well as assisting your organization with additional compliance needs.

Shop Eye & Face Protection

Have a Safe Day!