Are Regular Prescription Glasses Safe for Work?

Wearing prescription dress glasses with side shields in the workplace does not comply with OSHA requirements. Lenses and frames must meet specific requirements to qualify as compliant OSHA safety eyewear.

Safety glasses are designed to protect workers from the various hazards that may occur in the workplace. OSHA has regulations for safety glasses in the workplace while ANSI Z87.1-2003 is a voluntary standard that reflects the latest guidelines on how to design, manufacture and performance level of safety eyewear.

There are major distinctions between prescription safety glasses and prescription street glasses.

  1. Lens Testing: Lenses for high impact safety glasses must be tested and withstand impact from a 1/4” steel ball shot at 150 fps (feet per second). Lenses for prescription dress glasses only need to withstand impact from a 5/8” steel ball dropped from a height of 50 inches.
  2. The Plus: Lenses for safety glasses must be marked with the manufacturer’s monogram and a “+” mark to indicate they meet the High Impact testing standard. Prescription dress glasses do not require this marking as they are not tested for High Impact. All special tints and photochromic safety lenses have special markings whereas prescription dress lenses do not require this marking.
  3. Frame Testing: Safety frames are tested with 2.0mm polycarbonate to ensure they can withstand the impact from a 1/4” steel ball traveling at 150 fps without dislodging the lenses. Dress frames do not meet OSHA requirements. All parts of a safety frame are marked with Z87-2, indicating that they have been tested to withstand High Impact whereas dress frames do not require this marking.
  4. Side Shields: Safety frames have ANSI Z87 tested side shields for added protection whereas side shields are not made for prescription dress glasses. Dress frames with side shields do not meet ANSI standards for safety. All safety eyewear must be marked in specific ways in order to meet the ANSI Z87.1-2003 Standard.

On the job, you may wear safety gloves, a hard hat, and ear plugs because you realize the importance of the protection they are providing. You should also properly protect your eyes. You only have one pair of eyes for life, don’t take them for granted.