What should I look for in buying welding goggles/glasses?
Welding goggles provide a degree of eye protection while some forms of welding and cutting are being done. They are intended to protect the eyes not only from the heat and optical radiation produced by the welding, such as the intense ultraviolet light produced by an electric arc but also from sparks or debris. A full-face mask may be required for arc welding.
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Welding and cutting processes, including arc welding and cutting, as well as brazing, produce intense ultraviolet (UV), infrared (IR) and visible light wavelengths. The UV and IR wavelengths cannot be seen and can produce eye injury without the victim realizing it immediately. Extremely dark filters of the proper sort are needed for the welder to be able to look at the intensely glowing metal being welded. An approved face shield or welding helmet can also have filters for optical radiation protection, and offer additional protection against debris and sparks. UV blocking protective spectacles with side shields or welding goggles are considered primary protection, with the face shield or welding helmet considered secondary protection. This way, the eyes are still protected even when the face shield or helmet is lifted up.
It’s no secret that there are many health risks and occupational hazards associated with welding. However, many welders don’t realize just how much damage can be done to the eyes if they’re not protected properly. The eyes aren’t just at risk of being blinded due to the bright light; they can be harmed by flying dust debris and particles, and there’s the risk of irritation from gasses and fumes. Furthermore, there are also unseen dangers such as UV and radiation waves, which can cause serious, long-lasting damage. Unfortunately, welding helmets don’t offer adequate protection. The only way to be sure of preventing eye injuries is to add a pair of welding safety glasses to your everyday welding gear.
What should I know about the fit and care of eyewear?
Eyewear will protect the user if the protection device fully covers the eye and surrounding soft tissues. If eye protection is required, establish a complete eye safety protection program including selection, fit testing, training, maintenance and inspection.
Sizing and Fit
An essential element to look for is the side protection provided by safety glasses. Remember that dangerous particles do not always fly directly from the front. Side shields or wrap-around frames are important elements of protection.
Of course, how your welding glasses feel on you is also important, so check out their weight and comfort. Since you will be using them often for long stretches, it is important that they not make you uncomfortable or become a burden during your work.
- Ensure your safety eyewear fits properly. Eyewear should cover from the eyebrow to the cheekbone, and across from the nose to the bony area on the outside of the face and eyes. Eye size, bridge size and temple length all vary. Eyewear should be individually assigned and fitted, so that gaps between the edges of the device and the face are kept to a minimum.
- Eyewear should fit over the temples comfortably and over the ears. The frame should be as close to the face as possible and adequately supported by the bridge of the nose.
- Users should be able to see in all directions without any major obstructions in their field of view.
Is the second important aspect of choosing welding safety glasses. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1-1989 standard for mechanical impact resistance calls for clear polycarbonate lenses. These usually are best when working indoors, to protect from sparks, splashes, and flying particles.
Whether you use safety glasses or goggles can depend on the type of job you are doing. Goggles provide a seal around their eyes, but glasses with side shields can also provide a lot of protection from flying particles.
- Eye and face protection devices need maintenance.
- Clean your devices daily. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Avoid rough handling that can scratch lenses. Scratches impair vision and can weaken lenses.
- Store your devices in a clean, dry place where they cannot fall or be stepped on. Keep them in a case when they are not being worn.
- Replace scratched, pitted, broken, bent or ill-fitting devices immediately. Damaged devices interfere with vision and do not provide protection.
- Replace damaged parts only with identical parts from the original manufacturer to ensure the same safety rating.
- Do not change or modify the protective device.
The shade is a third important aspect of choosing safety glasses and is a number from 2-14. The higher the number, the more powerful safety eye protection there will be.
Most welding processes give off an extreme amount of the light – literally as bright as the sun so that severe eye damage can occur without proper protection. Of course, it is also necessary to look at the job at hand to be able to create a solid weld.
A special dark filter allows you to look directly at the welding arc while also being adequately protected. Auto-darkening welding lenses or glasses are a particularly good choice for those involved in arc welding where the electric light produced can give off significant amounts of radiation.
Welding Goggles or welding safety glasses with a 360-degree foam liner often are recommended for cutting and grinding environments, as well as on construction sites, to completely cover the eye because these operations tend to create a great deal of dust.
If you’re working in areas where condensation occurs, consider purchasing a pair of welding safety glasses with an anti-fog coating.
Bifocal Safety Glasses
If you need extra help reading or viewing close work, bi-focal safety glasses are available.
What type of eye and face protection is appropriate for my welding task?
The various types of eye protection are broken down into classes in the CSA standard Z94.3-15 “Eye and face protectors”. Each class is designed for a specific use. Eye and face protectors should have distinctive markings to identify the manufacturer and their class. Classifications of common protectors for welding operations are listed below:
Class 2C – direct / non-ventilated goggles with non-ionizing radiation protection
Classes 3 and 4 – welding helmets and hand shields
Class 6B – face shields for non-ionizing radiation protection
Class 7B – respirator facepiece for non-ionizing radiation protection
The following operations require full face protection by using either a welding helmet or a hand shield:
- arc welding,
- plasma arc cutting, gouging or welding, and
- air carbon arc cutting.
For gas cutting, welding, or brazing, the intensity of the light is much less than from arc welding, cutting or gouging processes. Lighter shade filter lenses can be used with goggles in place of a helmet.
How do I recognize safety eyewear?
Lenses: CSA-certified eye and face protectors must meet the criteria for impact resistance as outlined in the standard. Only devices made of approved materials are permitted.
Markings: The manufacturer or supplier certification mark must be present on all approved safety lenses, frames (front and temple), removable side shields, and other parts of the glasses, goggles, or helmets.
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Frames: Safety frames are stronger than street-wear frames and are often heat resistant. They are also designed to prevent lenses from being pushed into the eyes.
What should you know about eye protection?
- Choose a tight-fitting helmet to help reduce light reflection into the helmet through the space between the shell and the head.
- Wear the helmet correctly. Do not use it as a hand shield.
- Protect the shade lens from impact and sudden temperature changes that could cause it to crack.
- Use a cover lens to protect the filter shade lens. Replace the cover lens if it gets scratched or hazy.
- Make sure to replace the gasket periodically if your helmet uses one.
- Replace the clear retaining lens to protect your eyes from broken pieces.
- Clean lenses periodically.
- Discard pitted, cracked or damaged lenses.
Can you wear contact lenses when welding?
The CSA Standard W117.2 states that welders and welding personnel should not wear contact lenses because foreign bodies (objects) in the eye can cause excessive irritation. Contact lenses do not provide protection from ultraviolet radiation and flying objects. All workers in proximity to welding procedures must wear appropriate eye protection according to the circumstances. The OSH Answers document Contact Lenses at Work discusses how dust particles or chemicals can irritate the eyes.
Note that in Canada, Prince Edward Island’s Occupational Health and Safety Act General Regulations Section 45.11 specifically bans wearing contact lenses while welding.
What are the best welding goggles?
Welding glasses come in a variety of fixed shades, so it’s essential to choose one that will provide a suitable level of cover for your type of work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specified appropriate levels of protection when welding, so consider this when you’re choosing the right welding glasses for you.
Welding can be dangerous if you are not properly protected. One of the pieces of equipment that you need is eye protection of some sort, but what kind is best? We’ll be looking in detail at the best safety glasses for welding on the market:
Bollé Safety 253-SL-40084 Slam Safety Eyewear with Matte Black Rimless Frame and Welding Shade 5 Anti-Scratch Lens
These safety glasses have been made from a polycarbonate material, which is extremely strong and lightweight. The frames don’t have any metal parts whatsoever, so you don’t need to worry about them heating up and accidentally causing burns while you’re working. At 2.3mm, the lenses are thick, tough and durable – and not to mention protective, featuring a scratch-resistant coating and a filter which blocks over 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays. They’re designed to give you a full 180° of perfect viewing space – and the best part is that when (or if) you decide to replace these glasses, you can do your bit for the environment as they’re completely recyclable.
However, their only downside is that they’re not dark enough to support any welding processes that have arcs of light, including MIG and TIG welding. If you’re prepared for the fact that you can only use these with torches or plasma cutters, then you can be sure that this pair of welding safety glasses is a fantastic buy.
Green Shade 14 Solar Eclipse Glasses
#14 is the darkest lens shade you can buy – just as dark as the most protective welding helmet shades. As a result, these glasses are so dark that you can wear them to watch a solar eclipse, as well as using them for all types of welding, including MIG and TIG. The glass lenses, which have been made to a high quality, block out almost 100% of UV light and 97% of infrared radiation, giving your eyes almost complete protection. In addition, this is the only pair of welding safety glasses on this list which comes with protective side shields, although you can remove them if you’d prefer.
That said, the side panels do tend to come off quite easily, but as they’re not essential, it’s not a deal-breaker. We found that they fell off more easily when worn with prescription glasses or a welding helmet, but luckily a helmet provides all the additional protection that you lack from not having the side panels attached.
Hobart Safety Glasses for Welding
Shade: 5 – The Hobart 770726 Shade 5 Safety Glasses are made with scratch-resistant, shatterproof, polycarbonate shade five lenses.
We found that these goggles run large as if they are made only for men. They aren’t very dark, but if you have a small head, they let in even more light. They also fog up quickly with no ventilation.
Jackson Safety 3004761 Nemesis Cutting Safety Glasses Black Frame / IRUV 5.0 Shade Green Lens (19860)
This pair of Jackson safety glasses have a sporty style which makes it much more sleek and smart than most stereotypical safety glasses. Their wrap-around construction features a single lens which gives fantastic visibility and unobstructed peripheral vision. They fit really well – even over prescription glasses – and come with a neck cord which holds them in place. However, these glasses don’t just look great and fit well: filtering out 99.9% of UV rays, they offer sufficient optical protection.
As with all other welding safety glasses which check-in at shade 5, these aren’t suitable for MIG or TIG welding. This is one downside which makes them marginally less versatile than auto-darkening welding glasses.
Miller Electric Welding Safety Glasses, Shade 5.0 Lens
Miller Electric has produced some fantastic quality welding kit over the years, so this pair of welding safety glasses will make a brilliant addition to your protective gear. The polycarbonate lenses and frame are really light and comfortable to wear, a feeling which is increased by the addition of rubber pads at the ears which won’t leave unsightly marks after hours of welding. The scratch-resistant, reflective coating on the lenses is stylish, while still giving 99.9% protection against UV rays. In addition, these safety glasses have been designed so that they won’t fog up, but maintain fantastic visibility and peripheral vision, making it effortless to see your work.
The only downside is that as these are welding glasses shade 5, they’re only suitable for light processes including torch work and cutting. They don’t give enough protection for the bright arcs which are associated with MIG welding, so for that, you’d have to buy a separate, darker pair.
NOVEL Welder’s Protective Glasses
Shade: #10 – The NOVEL Safety Glasses Protective Glasses have radiation-resistant lenses that are made of shade number ten green lens glass. They are really dark, so you really can’t see much until you actually start welding and have the extra light. You do get some light from the top and the bottom of the glasses since they don’t seal to your face all the way around.
They are made out of inferior quality plastic that takes almost no effort to break. The lenses also scratch quite easily, but for the price, you can afford to replace them often.
SAFETY GLASSES PROTECTIVE GLASSES SHADE 10 GOGGLES FOR MELTING & SOLDERING (E 5)
Welding glasses shade ten are surprisingly difficult to source: most either come with much darker or lighter shades which are designed for specific welding processes. This pair falls somewhere in the middle, making it suitable for all different types of welding (here are some examples), but without being too dark. As a result, these lenses give great clarity and visibility, fitted with polycarbonate lenses which are scratch-resistant and replaceable. This makes them great value for money, as you won’t have to fork out for a whole new pair if one of your lenses ever becomes damaged. Fitted with adjustable earpieces, the frame is lightweight and impressively comfortable to wear.
However, these glasses are not without their faults. They fit very snugly to the face, which might be appropriate for many welders, but you can’t wear them at the same time as a separate pair of prescription glasses. Furthermore, the frame is made of plastic, so it won’t stand up to too much heavy-duty wear and tear.
Servore Auto Shade Darkening Welding Goggle Arc-513 Arc513 World’s First Tig
Auto-darkening welding glasses are still pretty new to the market, so they’re not very common. However, in many ways, they’re so much more versatile than standard safety specs. This pair – the world’s first auto-darkening safety glasses – switches between five different shades, ranging from light shade 5 to dark shade 13. In addition, it even features a #4 shade which makes this pair of glasses suitable for use with grinding. As a result, this is the only pair you’ll need to buy to see you through all your different welding jobs, including MIG welding. These glasses have a great ventilation system and an elastic strap, so they’re super cool and comfortable to wear while staying firmly in place the whole time. The build quality of these glasses is exceptional, especially as they’re heat and shock-resistant, so they’re more than sturdy enough to stand up to plenty of wear and tear. You’ll be left wanting for nothing as these safety glasses even come complete with a solid case.
There is one significant downside to these otherwise fantastic safety glasses, and that’s the price. They are significantly more expensive than most other standard welding glasses on the market. Although they’re more technologically advanced, it will place them out of reasonable reach for most welders. This is the main reason why we could not recommend it more highly on this list. Besides, the way they’ve been designed means that they’re only really practical to wear on their own: they fit too snugly to wear with prescription glasses (yet don’t have provision for additional prescription lens inserts), and they’re not practical to wear underneath a helmet as they need to be switched on with a button rather than having an auto power on function. Finally, it’s disappointing that these glasses come supplied with instructions in Korean, although both written and video instructions in English can be found online.
If you’re interested in an auto-darkening lens but want something that can protect your face a little better, you might want to check out these welding masks.
TITUS Welding Safety Goggles
The TITUS Welding Safety Goggles have different lenses that each offer their own level of protection. They are easy to change. All you have to do is unscrew the ring, replace the lens, and replace the ring.
These goggles have an adjustable strap to secure them to your head. You can also adjust the bridge of the nose. That plus the added padding around the lenses means that you can wear them comfortably for more extended periods of time.
We found that even though the bridge of the nose is adjustable, the hard plastic it’s made of is still uncomfortable on your nose. The extra padding doesn’t help too much either. There are also tiny slots where the nose bridge connects to the eyepieces that allow light to get into the goggles, and even the darkest lenses aren’t dark enough. These two things together allow more light to get to your eyes than you may like. They do the job, just not as efficiently as some.
What are the materials of goggles lenses?
Polycarbonate glasses are lightweight and protect against UV rays, but aren’t as clear as other materials.
NXT Polyurethane (Trivex):
Trivex is super-lightweight and has top-notch visibility, but is expensive.
Acrylic is lighter than glass, scratch-resistant, and less expensive, but it doesn’t offer very clear sight and isn’t very durable.
Glass doesn’t distort what you’re looking at and can be protected against scratches, but these glasses are heavy and don’t do very well with any direct impact.
What are the types of Safety Goggles?
Direct vent goggles have multiple slits in them to allow air to move behind the lenses and prevent fogging. These are best used for impact protection.
Indirect vent goggles also have multiple slits in them, but those slits are covered, allowing them to fog more frequently.
Non-vented goggles are just that. They don’t have any slits but are one solid piece. They offer the best protection from impact and splashes, but they fog up quickly.
Now that we have discussed the different types of safety glasses and how they are made, here are the seven that we chose for you out of all those we reviewed. Hopefully, you feel confident that you can now choose the best eye protection for your welding work.