When to replace safety glasses

October 10, 2017

It’s a question we get asked a lot: When is the right time for workers to replace their safety eyewear? Although some types of eyewear features higher-quality components, we also know that it’s not uncommon for workers to throw out their pair at the end of each shift.

The short answer is that there’s no definite amount of time when eyewear should be replaced. How often workers should replace their eyewear depends on the type of job they’re doing, how well the eyewear is taken care of, and the industry they work in.


Factors to consider when replacing eyewear:

  1. Scratches – Are the safety glasses scratched or cracked in any manner? Eyewear should be inspected before each use for scratches, cracks, pits, scrapes and other damage to the lenses. Eyewear that is scratched or cracked should immediately be replaced because it can impair vision and reduce impact resistance.
  1. Storage – How well a pair of safety glasses is stored will impact its lifespan. Many workers slip their safety glasses into pockets without a proper storage case, which can harm the lenses. Improper storage can harm safety glasses because the polycarbonate that many safety glasses are made from is soft and scratches easily. 3M suggests storing safety glasses in a safe place outside of the work environment where they are safe from debris, falls or being stepped on. Safety glasses shouldn’t be stored in direct sunlight because over time, UV rays can eventually cause the materials used in the eyewear to break down, reducing their impact protection.
  2. Cleaning – Like with storage, how a worker cleans their protective eyewear will impact its lifespan. Dry wiping safety glasses can harm the lenses, often causing particles to scratch the polycarbonate. 3M suggests washing safety glasses with water and a mild soap to extend the amount of use a worker can get out of them.
  3. Lens coating – If workers depend on safety glasses with 3M™ Scotchgard™ Anti-Fog Coating, it’s important to replace safety glasses when the anti-fog properties no longer exist. Scotchgard™ Anti-Fog Coating retains its effectiveness for up to twenty five washes. If the coating becomes less effective, or visibility is impaired in any way, the eyewear should be replaced.
  1. Environment – Workers who wear safety glasses in environments with harsher conditions or extreme temperatures will likely need to replace their eyewear before workers in less harsh environments.
  1. Broken components – It’s important to note that in order to preserve the safety rating and effectiveness of a pair of safety glasses, the entire pair of glasses should be replaced if a component breaks off (unless there is a replacement part available, e.g., foam gaskets). Changing or modifying your eyewear can affect how well the pair protects you.

Visit us online to learn more about 3M™ Protective Eyewear or visit Town Square to read about the latest issues in worker health and safety, like how eyewear comfort affects compliance and the benefits of 3M™ Scotchgard™ Anti-Fog Coating technology. 

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