Eye Protection at Work: What Are Safety Glasses?

Two types of safety glasses. Closeup of frame imprint. All safety frames that meet ANSI standards have "Z87" stamped on them. Closeup of lens marking. Manufacturer's identification or monogram appears on top of each safety lens that meets ANSI standards.

Safety glasses are protective eyewear that meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). OSHA enforces the occupational health and safety standards. ANSI gives manufacturing standards for protective eyewear. Note that advances in technology allow for safety glasses that are more comfortable and attractive than before. But they still meet current requirements.

How to recognize safety glasses

  • Frames: Safety frames are stronger than street-wear frames and are heat-resistant. They help prevent lenses from being pushed into your eyes.

  • Lenses: Safety glasses that meet ANSI standards have glass or polycarbonate lenses. They are stronger than street-wear lenses. They are also more impact-resistant. They come in prescription and nonprescription (plano) forms.

Care of safety glasses

Like any other piece of equipment, safety glasses need to be maintained. Learn how to clean and store, and when to replace, your safety glasses.

  • Cleaning. Look at your safety glasses every day. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning. Rough handling when cleaning can scratch the lens. It can also weaken the lens.

  • Storing. Store your safety glasses in a clean, dry place where they can't fall or be stepped on.

  • Replacing. Scratched, broken, bent, or ill-fitting eyewear should be replaced as soon as possible. Damaged eyewear interferes with your ability to see. The protective features may also be reduced.