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Construction Sunglasses: Key Characteristics to Look for to Ensure Workplace Eye Safety

Workplace eye injuries are a serious concern. Statistics from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness note that, worldwide, over 3.5 million of them occur annually—and most of them are preventable. Those affected are 30% less likely to be employed after such incidents. 

You’re especially vulnerable to workplace eye injuries if you work in construction. Onsite, dust, dirt, wood, and even small pieces of metal can enter and harm your eyes. That’s why our senior editor Sharyl Calibayan emphasises the importance of installing eye wash stations in the workplace: you can use these clean water sources to flush out foreign objects before they do more damage. However, this shouldn’t be the only proactive measure you and your workplace take. 

Donning protective eyewear will further shield you from eye injury. Though safety glasses provide sufficient cover, construction workers can also opt to wear sunglasses for additional protection when doing outdoor work. They’ll shield against the sun’s UV rays and glare, which can put you at risk of accidents in the short term and lead to permanent blindness in the long run. Here are a few key characteristics to look for when buying the best construction sunglasses for eye safety. 

UV protection 

This is the primary job sunglasses accomplish, and it’s especially crucial in outdoor construction work. The Met Office warns that consistent exposure to the sun’s UV rays causes accumulated eye damage that leads to age-related macular degeneration. Once you’re above 65 years old, you may become part of the one in three people who lose their sight to this disease. So when selecting sunglasses for construction work, look for frames marked ‘CE’ or ‘UV400’ to get the best protection possible. A great way to ensure this is by buying from reliable brands like 3M and Bollé Eyewear.

Coatings that provide visual clarity 

Construction sunglasses must also enhance your vision so you can see what you’re doing more clearly. Consider pairs with polarised lens coatings, which will cut out the sun’s glare and prevent it from obstructing your vision when it bounces off metal, glass, and other reflective materials. It also helps to buy sunglasses from brands that offer additional vision-clarifying coatings. Oakley sunglasses exemplify the kind of eyewear you should look for. Its models, including the Radar and Half Jacket, offer lenses with both polarised coatings and the brand’s patented PRIZM technology—a vision-enhancing feature that can help you see in more detail. Choose sunglasses like these to better spot and avoid accidents and eye injuries on construction sites. 

Wraparound lenses for all-around protection 

Your sunglasses should be able to block the blunt impact of swinging or falling objects and debris produced by activities like grinding, sanding, and welding—all things that can cause eye injuries in construction. Just take a look at what happened to a worker in Bradford who didn’t don protective eyewear: he experienced significant vision loss after PVC panel splinters entered his right eye. It’s thus vital to select construction sunglasses with lenses that extend beyond the eye area. Wraparound sunglasses like Wiley X’s Saber Advanced are a good option because their lenses follow the contours of your face to more closely protect your eyes and the surrounding skin. And unlike regular sunglasses designs with frames nearer to the eyes and eyebrows, they won’t obstruct your peripheral vision as you work. 

Enhanced durability

Construction work is intensive, so your sunglasses should be able to withstand all kinds of rough conditions. That’s why you should look for sunglasses with durability-enhancing features. Look for those with polycarbonate frames and materials, which are especially impact- and shatter-resistant. Selecting construction sunglasses with anti-scratch lens coatings can also help you use them for longer. You may find a suitable pick from the range offered by Riley eyewear, as the brand recently paired with Asda to provide its safety glasses and sunglasses for industrial use across the UK. Aside from providing prescription options, Riley offers models like the Navigator sunglasses that use sturdy polycarbonate frames and lenses that leverage anti-scratch coatings. They’re also extremely lightweight, so construction workers can wear them comfortably even when spending long hours on site.

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