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How to Choose Your Safety Glasses |

How to Choose Your Safety Glasses

Safety glasses protect against a range of different hazards. You can identify which hazards your glasses are certified to protect against by looking at their rating. The type of eye protection provided is shown by the combination of letters and numbers on the glasses. These letters and numbers are designated by different legislation, for instance EN170, EN171, and EN172.


The lens shading is shown by a number. Different lens shades are suitable for different types of work. It is important to consider where the work is being conducted, and how bright the environment is. Glasses with high levels of light transmission should be used in good visibility conditions, whereas eye protection with low levels of light transmission should be used in very bright environments, or places where there is likely to be glare.

Here are the lens shades and their corresponding letters:

Safety Glasses

Rating Light Transmission
1.2 74.4% - 100%
1.7 43.2% - 58.1%
2.5 17.8% - 29.1%
3.1 8.0% - 17.8%

The lens shading is the most easily identifiable part of the safety glasses rating, as it is shown as a number with a decimal point. Normally the lens shading is proceeded by the glasses’ level of radiation protection. This is shown as a single number followed by a dash, so that together with the lens shading the rating will appear as 2-1.2, for instance. The level of radiation protection you need will depend on the environment in which you work.

Here are the ratings for radiation protection:

Rating Radiation Protection
2 UV Protection (EN170). May affect colour recognition
2C or 3 UV Protection (EN170). The number 2C (previously 3) indicates the filter allows good colour recognition
4 Infrared Protection (EN171)
5 Solar Protection (EN172) - 100% UV protection with no infrared protection
6 Solar Protection (EN172) -. 100% UV protection - with infrared protection

The strength of the lens for safety glasses is indicated by a letter. Different letters indicate that the lenses are able to resist different types of hazards.

You may find that safety glasses have a strength rating with two letters, for instance FT. The letters are as follows:

Letter Strength of Lens
F Withstand small objects travelling up to 45 meters per second
B Withstand small objects travelling up to 120 meters per second
A Withstand small objects travelling up to 190 meters per second
T Withstand impacts at extreme temperatures.

Combining these together, you will see a rating that tells you what you need to know about eye protection.

Here are some examples of what a full rating might look like:

Rating Description UsesExample Product
2C-1.2 F UV protection with good colour recognition. 74.4% - 100% light transmission and able to withstand small objects travelling up to 45 meters per second. Ideal for factory or warehouse work where flying particles may be a hazard. M9800 Panoview Specs
5-3.1 Solar Protection (EN172) - 100% UV protection with no infrared protection. 8.0% - 17.8% light transmission. Outdoor workers who are exposed to bright sunshine Bolle Hustler Safety Glasses

To find the right safety glasses it is essential to do a proper risk assessment. Once you know what type of glasses you need, you can check the rating to ensure that the eye protection you need with be right for your workplace.

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