There are a number of different precautions that electrical workers need to consider when shopping for prescription safety glasses.
Electrical Work and Prescription Safety Glasses
For one, it is not always necessary for electricians to wear prescription safety glasses. Also, sometimes the only prescription safety glasses electricians have to wear are the kind that are ANSI Z87-approved for impact safety (the kind that most people on a construction site need to wear). Personal protective equipment (PPE) for electrical work can vary greatly depending on the situation.
Here are some things to consider when purchasing prescription safety glasses for electrical work:
- If you are working on new construction, you probably only need standard ANSI Z87-approved prescription safety glasses for electrical work.
- If you are working on repairs, but the voltage is standard US 110V, or if you are working with lower or no voltage, you probably do not need any special lens for your prescription safety glasses. Standard ANSI Z87-approved safety glasses are appropriate for this circumstance as well.
- There is a small number of prescription safety glasses frames that are advertised for arc flash protection. These frames generally have no metal in them, or they have a very small amount of metal that is completely encased in plastic. While these frames are non-conductive, they don’t protect the rest of your face from an arc, but you can get some of them with prescription green shade 2 welder’s lenses, which will protect your eyes somewhat from the blinding flash caused by an arc.
- The majority of electricians working on live high voltage (220, 440, etc) tend to use face masks that are a green shade. If you have green shaded prescription safety glasses, you can use a clear polycarbonate face mask instead of a green one.
- The best arsenal for electrical protection is to have a green polycarbonate arc flash protective face mask paired with a clear pair of ANSI Z87-approved impact safety glasses. You can leave the safety glasses on at all times to protect your eyes from impact in new construction and low- or no-voltage situations, and you can wear the mask on top of the glasses in situations where you need to protect yourself from arc flash. A non-conductive safety frame for the clear prescription safety glasses is a better choice than a regular frame for this combination, but a regular frame will work just as well the majority of the time.
Electrical work can be extremely dangerous when working on or near live boxes or wires. It is important to assess your situation, consider all possibilities and risks, and plan your personal protective equipment accordingly before beginning each job. It is also important to consider the safety requirements of whatever site you may be working on because you do not want to deal with the consequences should OSHA show up and find you without ANSI-approved safety glasses.
Safety is a priority in electrical work; people die when they’re careless. Be careful, be observant, wear your PPE, and always check to make sure the line doesn’t have voltage before getting started! And if you require prescription glasses, be sure to get yourself a pair of prescription safety glasses for electrical work.
Please share with us any experiences you’ve had doing electrical work—with or without proper safety glasses—in the comment section below.