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Keeping an Eye on Eye Protection with 3M

school of safety supplies | Posted: 9/22/2021

Eye injuries in the workplace are very common, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe that if the right eye protection is used this can lessen the severity or even prevent 90% of these eye injuries.

Common Eye Injuries and Preventions

A few of the most common injuries that occur at the workplace are chemicals, foreign objects, or cuts and scrapes in the cornea. Other common injuries come from splashes with grease or oil, burns from steam or ultraviolet exposure, and flying wood or metal chips. In addition, healthcare workers, laboratory and janitorial staff may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases from eye exposure. Some infectious diseases can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye. This can occur through direct exposure to blood splashes, coughing, or from touching the eye with contaminated fingers.

Two main reasons a worker could get an eye injury on the job are:

  1. They were NOT wearing eye protection
  2. They were wearing the WRONG kind of protection for that job.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA requires workers to use eye and face protection whenever there is a reasonable probability of injury that could be prevented by such equipment. Personal protective eyewear, such as gogglesface shieldssafety glasses, or full-face respirators must be used when an eye hazard exists. The necessary eye protection depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used, and individual vision needs. Some common hazards to be watchful of are as follows:

Keeping an Eye on Eye Protection
Keeping an Eye on Eye Protection
  • Projectiles: dust, concrete, metal wood, and other particles
  • Chemicals: splashes and fumes
  • Radiation: especially visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, and lasers
  • Bloodborne pathogens: hepatitis or HIV, from blood and body fluids

Safety Glasses

Safety glasses come in so many different shapes, styles, and sizes but how do you know which ones are legitimate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)? Here are some identifiers to watch out for:

  • CSA-certified safety glasses must meet the criteria for impact resistance outlined in their standards.
  • Safety frames are stronger than street-wear frames and are often heat resistant.
  • Safety glasses have also been designed to prevent lenses from being pushed into the eyes.
  • The manufacturer or supplier logo is marked (or etched) on all approved safety lenses, frames, removable side shields, and other parts of the glasses, goggles, or helmets.

Ensure a Proper Fit and Maintain your Safety Glasses

Having the wrong sized eye protection could result in an eye injury. Eye size, bridge size, and temple length all vary, so safety glasses should be individually assigned and fitted. Safety glasses should be worn so that the temples fit comfortably over the ears, while the frame should be as close to the face as possible and adequately supported by the bridge of the nose. Cleaning your safety glasses daily, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and avoiding rough handling that can scratch your lenses will make sure that your glasses stay in the best condition possible for longer. Scratches impair vision and can weaken lenses, so make sure to store your safety glasses in a clean, dry place where they cannot fall or be stepped on (preferably in the case).

Variety of Safety Glasses

With a wide selection of safety glasses to choose from, it can be incredibly hard to decide which ones will be the best for your job, but ensuring you are wearing the proper ones can protect you from most splashes, debris, and dust. Let’s go over just two of the many safety glasses we carry, here at

The Virtua CCS Protective eyewear with a foam gasket features a comfortable, lightweight frame with a Cord Control System or CCS and an optional foam gasket attachment. CSS is designed to keep a corded earplug attached, untangled and ready for use. The foam gasket helps limit the eyes' exposure to dust while providing additional cushioning. The lenses are an anti-fog polycarbonate that absorbs 99.9% UV. This type of safety glasses meets the requirements of CSA and is impact-rated to ANSI specifications.

Another option is the SecureFit Protective eyewear from 3M. The 3M pressure diffusion technology allows temples to naturally adjust to individual head sizes. This self-adjusting feature eliminates the need to stock multiple frame sizes at worksites. The secure, snug fit keeps eyewear in place without slippage even when the person is in motion. The lenses are polycarbonate which absorbs 99.9% UVA and UVB up to 380nm and meets the requirements of CSA and ANSI. 3M offers this type of eyewear with the anti-fog polycarbonate lens or the anti-scratch coated polycarbonate lens. 380nm is referring to the wavelength of a UVA or a UVB ray in nanometers. A UVA ray has a wavelength of 315nm – 400nm and a UVB ray has a wavelength of 280nm – 315nm.

The Difference Between Polycarbonate and Plastic lenses

3M Glasses for Eye Protection

Polycarbonate is the strongest material for impact resistance, it is lightweight and can be coated for scratch resistance, most also have built-in UV radiation protection.

Plastic (CR39) is about one-half the weight of glass, it is resistant to solvents and has more choices for coatings and tinting. Standard plastic lenses in safety glasses are often called “harsh resin” “CR39 plastic” or just “plastic” lenses. CR39 is actually a PPG industry's registered trade name for a DADC (diallyl diglycol carbonate) polymer that was introduced in 1941. The CR stands for Columbia Resin and CR39 was the 39th batch or formula made by Columba Laboratories in Ohio. This polymer is polycarbonate, but its starting materials are different from the resins used in safety glasses with “polycarbonate” lenses. The hard resin or CR39 plastic is a thermoset plastic meaning it cannot be molded or bent when heated. On the other hand, the polycarbonate polymers are thermoplastic which means that the lenses can be formed by melting polycarbonate pellets and injecting them into a mold.

About Transition Lenses

We all know that wearing eyeglasses can be a pain, if it’s raining you need little windshield wipers to keep them clear. If it’s humid they mist up and you can’t see a thing! One solution that the glasses-wearing population has found is something called photochromic lenses. These are usually sold under a popular brand name like “Transitions”. They look clear indoors or in poor light, but in sunlight, they darken automatically and effectively turning your normal lenses into shades! This technology is pretty cool, but how exactly does it work?

Transition Lenses
Transition Lenses

Normal sunglasses work by blocking out some of the light in one of two ways. Most are coloured filters, that only allow the light of a certain colour through. Since only a fraction of the light gets through, you see a darkened and sometimes coloured picture. The other way used is something called “polarization”. Light travels in a wave motion - a bit like the waves on the sea. But where ocean waves vibrate only up and down, light waves wriggle in every direction. Polarizing lenses are a bit like slits that let through only light waves vibrating in a single direction. So, like coloured lenses, they only let in a fraction of the light and you see a darkened version of the world.

Photochromic lenses work by reacting to ultraviolet or UV light. This is light that is just too blue for our eyes to see. Indoors, there is hardly any UV light so photochromic lenses remain clear; outdoors, where there’s quite a bit of UV light coming down from the sun, they darken.

Modern photochromic lenses tend to be plastic and instead of silver chemicals they contain organic (carbon-based) molecules that react to light in a slightly different way. They subtly change their molecular structure when ultraviolet light strikes them. In this altered form, they soak up more ordinary light as it tries to pass by, which is what makes the lenses darken again. Imagine lots of molecules suddenly darkening inside a clear lens. It’s a bit like closing the blinds in front of your window on a sunny day; as the slats turn, they progressively block out more and more light. This all happens remarkably quickly, about half of the darkening happens within the first minute and they’re cutting out about 80% of sunlight within 15 minutes.

The Drawbacks to Transitions

As cool as this technology is there are a few drawbacks. Unfortunately, it takes a bit longer for the photochromic lenses to clear than it does for them to darken in the first place. Generally, they let up through about 60% of light again after you’ve been back indoors for 5 minutes. However, it can take up to an hour for them to clear completely. You might also be surprised to find that your photochromic lenses darken almost every time you go outside whether it’s sunny or not; that’s because they’re reacting to the ultraviolet light, and there’s always plenty of that about, even on a cloudy day.

Another drawback is that the photochromic molecules react to temperature as well as light, they darken much more in cold conditions. This means your photochromic sunglasses will give really effective performance in winter and work somewhat less well in the summer. This temperature effect can sometimes be a real problem. The lenses can darken so much that they make driving dangerous in really cold and snowy conditions. So, it’s recommended not to wear photochromic lenses for something like driving a snowmobile!

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us here, and make sure to subscribe to our email list so you can keep up to date with our latest offers, flyers, new products, and giveaways here at!

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