PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR

What are the best safety glasses for sun protection?

Best Sunglasses for Eye ProtectionPrescription glasses and most sunglasses are usually not suitable for use as protective eyewear against airborne workplace hazards.

Eye protection must comply with Australian Standards and provide appropriate protection against the hazard. Depending on the application, that may mean offering low, medium or high impact protection, and/or welding, chemical handling and dust protection (see more in chart below).

Where prescription glasses or sunglasses need to be worn, appropriate safety eyewear must be worn over the top of them however wearing tinted safety glasses is a better choice than wearing safety glasses and sunglasses. Contact lenses also do not provide protection and can actually increase the risk of injury if foreign matter becomes lodged under the contact lense.

Choosing safety glasses that have “certification” of their standards compliance is recommended as it will have been independently and regularly batch-tested and proven to comply with Australian Standards, as opposed to being self-tested by the manufacturer for compliance.

When working outdoors, the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV) also presents a hazard and repeated UV exposure can cause permanent eye damage including cataracts – the world’s leading cause of blindness. Men are at much greater risk than women.

It is therefore critical that safety eyewear offers the maximum UV protection, as should any fashion sunglasses worn when not working.

Tinted or polarised glasses may reduce glare, but they may not be filtering out the UV radiation.

A label must be attached to the glasses – whether fashion or safety – stating their category of UV protection, from zero to four, with category four the highest. Sunglasses in category four must not be used while driving.

Pro Choice Product Development Manager, Brad Rodgers described UV protection as being important even if the glasses are clear and mostly worn indoors or in the shade.

“All our safety glasses provide 99.9% UV protection. Our clear lens with a mirrored coating allows both indoor protection from potential injury on the job and outdoor protection from potential injury and UV,” he said.

He added that the ProChoice indoor / outdoor safety glasses range is great for people who work in construction and other industries where their work requires that they regularly move between shaded areas and full sun. 

The correct fit is also essential. Especially since research has found that 45 per cent of eye injuries occur while some form of eye protection was worn, suggesting incorrect fit or rating for the application.

General rating recommendations from Better Health Victoria include:

Low Impact: Chipping, riveting, spalling, hammering and managing a strap under tension. Choose safety glasses with a Standards mark.

Medium Impact: Scaling, grinding and machining metals, some woodworking tasks, stone dressing, wire handling and brick cutting. Choose safety glasses with a Standards mark ‘I’.

High Impact: For tasks including explosive power tools and nail guns. Recommended protection includes face shields with manufacturer ID and Standards mark ‘V’.

Welding: Filters and shields marked with manufacturer ID and Standards mark as set out in AS/NZS 1338.1. Read more about safe welding here.

Chemical Handling: Wide-vision goggles, eye shields or face shields marked with manufacturer ID and Standards mark ‘C’.

Dust – goggles marked with manufacturer ID and Standards mark ‘D’

The task and the hazard should always be assessed by the individual and any advice given here is general in nature and not to be used as the sole source of information.