Man wearing face shield while welding

Eye Protection for Welders: What Types Can Be Used?

For optimal safety in the workplace, you should recognize the safety hazards and take the right steps to reduce or negate them. That is particularly important in the welding sector, where workers are exposed to a range of work-related hazards continuously. In laser welding, arc cutting, welding, and brazing, for instance, welders are exposed to high levels of UV and infrared rays and intense visible light.

Without adequate eye protection like that offered by an auto-dim welding helmet, welders are at a high risk of different eye injuries. The exposure to UV light, for example, causes photokeratitis, commonly called welder’s flash or snow blindness. As a welder, your eyes are also at risk of injuries from flying debris and the considerable dust in your work environment. To protect from these and other welding-related eye injuries, the following personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial.

Face Shields

These are designed to protect a welder from slags, fumes, and sparks. Most face shields have detachable filter plates that can be changed to suit the work environment. If, for example, you are outdoors, you can opt for darker shades for the filter plates for eye protection from the sun’s glare. However, you should keep in mind that face shields do not meet industry standards for impact protection. As such, you should wear safety goggles with the face shield in welding tasks where flying objects are a concern.

Welding Helmets

These have extended neckpieces to protect your face and neck from flying sparks and debris, thus negating the need for safety goggles under them. Most helmets used by welders have auto-darkening lenses. These automatically darken or lighten to suit your welding environment. They negate the inconvenience associated with face shields, where you have to change the lens manually to suit your surroundings. The automatic darkening also allows you to wear the helmet throughout without eye strain or having to flip it up and down like the face shield.

Clear Safety Glasses

These are ideal for indoor welding tasks where they protect a welder from splashes, flying particles, and sparks. There are different styles available, ranging from brow guards and side shields to wraparound goggles. Welding glasses with side shields, for instance, protect you from flying objects while wraparound goggles form a protective seal around your eyes that keeps sparks and particles from injuring your eyes. Other than particles and sparks, clear safety glasses protect your eyes from UV radiation of not more than 385 nanometers.

Welding Shades

MAle and female wearing safety glasses in a shooting range

Most welding light is as bright as the sun’s and can cause retinal damage without the right protection. Welding shades have dark filters that allow welders to look directly at the welding light without retinal damage. The ideal welding shades for your environment are those that enable an adequate view of your weld zone without falling below the recommended minimum protective shade.

Approximately 25% of the injuries associated with welding are eye-related. These statistics make an investment in one of the above protective options all the more essential. Wearing protective gear is crucial, even if you will only be welding for a few minutes.

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