It is estimated by OSHA that workplace eye injuries cost $300 million dollars in lost productivity, medical treatment, and worker compensation. Proper eye protection can shield workers from flying objects, debris, particles, chemicals, and more. Safety eyewear shouldn’t just be used indoors, it is also crucial for sun protection.
Why Workers Need Safety Sunglasses
Safety sunglasses not only protect eyes from the hazards of the job, but they also limit the amount of UV radiation that reaches them. These harmful UV rays can damage the proteins in the eye’s lens and increase the risk for cataracts and impaired vision. Not to mention, working outside without sun protection makes it harder for workers to see the environment around them due to the increased visible light which can lead to injuries or errors.
Despite the fact that most workplaces require eye protection, more than 20,000 workers suffer job-related eye injuries every year (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). There are several reasons workers don’t wear or don't properly wear safety eyewear. Some of the main reasons are size, performance issues such as fogging, and style.
How Sun Protection is Defined
People often assume that all sunglasses are created equal and that if the lens is dark, their eyes will be protected. This is not the case. In order to truly provide sun protection, lenses need to filter and limit the number of rays that reach the eye.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is an organization that works with industry leaders and government bodies to create safety standards that define eyewear. It gives workers and those buying personal protective equipment (PPE) assurances that their purchases will perform certain functions. In a recent blog post, we discussed the latest updates to ANSI in regard to eyewear.
ANSI Z87.1-2020 details different levels of UV transmittance that lenses can allow. Thanks to the organization, determining if eyewear provides sun protection and how much is easy to determine. Safety sunglasses that block out UV rays will be marked on the lens with a U followed by a number 2-6. U6 offers the highest protection.
When it comes to safety sunglasses, visible light transmittance is also measured. Depending on the job to be done and the environment, workers will require varying levels of visible light. This is on a scale of L1.3 to L10. The chart to the right details the maximum amount of visible light transmitted by each lens level.
Types of Lenses
As detailed above, safety sunglasses come in a variety of lens options with varying levels of protection. There are also several types of lens features that can shape the way a lens behaves and influence when it should be used.
Tinted polycarbonate lenses are often what comes to mind first when one thinks of sunglasses. In the PPE world, lenses come in dozens of tint colors which all allow in different levels of visible light transmittance and are good for a range of applications.
A photochromic lens is one made of plastic that contains molecules that when exposed to UV light automatically darken to offer enhanced protection. These molecules are clear to artificial light which allows lenses to appear clear indoors and shaded outdoors. How much the lens shades is determined by the amount of UV light it is exposed to. This type of lens is great for workers who work in both an indoor (or covered) and outdoor environment.
Polarized safety sunglasses are widely popular among those who work near water or snow. They are also commonly used by anglers, boaters, and in other recreational applications. When light hits water, glass, snow, and other highly reflected surfaces, the light waves become polarized which can cause a dangerous glare. Polarized lenses reduce this glare by blocking horizontal light waves. Pyramex offers polarized lens options in forest gray, sky red mirror, green mirror, blue mirror, and gray.
Mirrored lenses have a similar goal to reduce glare as polarized lenses. However, they address the issue differently. The reflective mirror or “flash” coating on mirrored lens reflects the light away from your eyes instead of absorbing it like other types of lenses. Mirrored lenses are good for those working around water, driving, or in other situations where one might face excessive glare.
Sun Protection Workers Will Love
At Pyramex, we want to create safety sunglasses that workers not only need to wear but that they want to wear. We offer a wide variety of options in both our industrial and retail lines that are perfect for workers who need sun protection regardless of their industry and job duties. Below are just some of our safety sunglasses.
Need help choosing the right sun protection for yourself or your workers? Our sales and customer service teams can help!