• timothykohanski

Choosing the Right Safety Glasses

Protective eyewear is one of the most common forms of personal protective equipment. Whether you're jackhammering concrete, welding steel,

painting walls, or adding chemicals to a pool, protecting your eyes is important. Many people know that safety glasses need to meet the ANSI Z87 standard, but did you know that not all Z87 compliant eyewear is appropriate for all situations?

Let's look back at the examples above. The worker jackhammering concrete might be concerned about impact and dust protection. The welder might need optical protection from the welding arc. The painter and pool maintenance employee are likely to need chemical splash protection. If you were to look for a single pair of glasses that addressed all of these hazards, it would likely be very difficult, not to mention expensive. Instead, it is best to match the eyewear to the hazard.

Lucky for us, ANSI provides a good starting point. ANSI Z87.1 classifies eye protection as impact- or non-impact-rated. Impact-rated eye protection will have a plus symbol (+). For example, impact rated lenses will be labeled “Z87+.”

Dust and splash protection is indicated by the letter "D" followed by a number indicating the level of protection. For instance, "D5" indicates protection from fine dust.

Optical radiation protection is indicated by a letter, often followed by a number. The eyewear worn by the welder would be labeled with a "W" followed by a shade number between 1.3 and 14 depending on the type of welding. Ultra-violet protection is indicated by a "U" and infrared protection is denoted with an "R". Glare protection is provided by eyewear labeled with an "L" and variable tint is present on eyewear labeled "V". Special purpose eyewear is labeled with an "S".

Eye protection will have several markings if it meets the requirements for multiple categories. For example, lenses marked "Z87+D4" would be impact resistant and provide protection against dust.

The key to selecting the proper safety glasses is to first identify the hazards and then to select eyewear rated for those hazards. For help performing a hazard assessment or selecting eye protection, please contact us at


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