What distinguishes a pair of glasses from being average, to safety certified? The materials used to construct safety glasses are stronger and more durable than with regular glasses, because they must conform to a higher standard of impact resistance. This standard is established by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and enforced by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Safety glasses are available in different styles and colors, but the lens and frame materials have little variation.
Like sport frames, safety frames are made with a lightweight, sturdy plastic. The type of plastic varies from brand to brand, but they all use shatter-resistant materials that are durable enough to meet ANSI standards. For instance, SPY uses their shatter-resistant Grilamid for their safety frames, while Wiley X often uses nylon.
When it comes to the frames of safety glasses, the same criteria is used to test them for both basic and high impact situations. These tests ensure the lens will stay in place, and it will be flammable, corrosion, and impact resistant.
Polycarbonate is the most common material used for lenses in safety glasses. It's easy to see why—it's lightweight, stronger than plastic, impact-resistant, and has better fog resistance than other materials, too. A close second, Trivex is becoming increasingly popular for safety lenses. It's similar to polycarbonate, but with added benefits like scratch resistance, superior optical clarity, and photochromic capabilities. Glass and plastic aren't used for lenses in safety glasses because they're likely to shatter under high impact.
Lenses are tested differently than frames. For a basic impact test, lenses are tested separately from the frame. Meanwhile, high impact tests require the frame and lenses to be tested as a unit, with the lens mounted in the frame. These tests aim to ensure the lens will not crack, chip, break, or become dislodged from the lens holder.
To learn even more about what to look for in your safety glasses, check out The Ultimate Safety Glasses Buyer's Guide.
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