Glassworking includes a variety of artistic and scientific applications from beadmaking and torchwork to soft glass and borosilicate to quartz and pyrex. People work in glassmaking professionally, whether as an artisan or in industry, and increasingly more are taking up glassblowing as a hobby.
Several hazards are paramount considerations with glassworking. The most significant one is obvious, the heat. A glassworker must understand the long-term effects heat can have on the human body and take precautions to stay safe and healthy.
In addition to the hot glass, hazards from high temperature come from furnaces operating at very high temperatures, often above 2000 degrees, and work areas that can get up to 130 degrees. Because of the continually intense heat, hydration is crucial. Burn prevention is also important as are precautions regarding the various chemicals involved.
Certain precautionary measures are a given in glassblowing simply because of the heat factor. Those include wearing safe working clothes, having good provision for ventilation, and using quality eye safety gear.
Glassblowing Eye Safety
In addition to the potential for eye injury from shattered glass or impact of other objects, precaution must also be considered for:
- Filtering yellow sodium flares from heating sodium compounds in glass.
- Blocking ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light.
- Protecting against overall strong light.
The main concern lies with the long-term effect of these hazards on eyes.
“[Glass]workers should be made aware that they should avoid prolonged viewing of molten glass radiation emission through inappropriate filters to minimize unanticipated cumulative effect of chronic optical radiation injury on the eye.” (Occupational exposure to optical radiation)
Essentially, the type of glass determines the type of lens needed. For example, borosilicate glass (Pyrex) requires the use of didymium lenses because they filter out the intense yellow light emitted by heated glass. Another example is quartz glass, which requires a welding shade of 6 or 8 because it is heated to a much higher temperature and produces a significant amount of harmful radiation (both IR and UV).
While there is safety eyewear for glassblowers, no one pair protects for every situation.
“Variation exists in the levels of ocular radiant exposure of glassblowers, and no single protective filter lens could be exclusively used for all the different operations in the glassblowing industry.” (Glassblowers’ ocular health and safety)
Glassblowing Safety Eyewear
Available soon at Safety Glasses USA are Phillips Hot Glassworking Eyewear. This includes both prescription and non-prescription safety eyewear to meet the needs of every type of hot glassworking application and associated arts.
This Phillips line includes the following features:
- Glass lenses of optical-quality, German glass.
- Plastic lenses of optical-quality and scientifically engineered for the best visibility in its class.
- Lenses for IR, UV, and sodium flare protection in various shades and combinations of coverages.
Phillips glassblowing eyewear is available in a variety of lens options for meeting the needs hazards specific to the types of glass glassblowers work with.
- Phillips 202 – Blocks UV and sodium flare. Used with torch work for bead making and silver soldering. Lens often referred to as “rose glass” or “didymium.”
- BoroView 3.0 – Blocks IR and sodium flare. Shade 3.0 for smaller torchwork with borosilicate glass such as marbles, pendants and clear glass.
- BoroView 5.0 – Blocks IR, UV and sodium flare. Shade 5.0 used for doing borosilicate torchwork such as large vessels, colored borosilicate, and torchwork with thick rods.
- Quartz Working Glasses – Used when working with quartz glass. The darker shade on the bottom allows ample protection from high-temperature torches. The lighter shade on top provides better vision when not needing such protection.
- Split lens glasses – Available in a variety of combinations of the Phillips 202, Green IR 3.0, and Green IR 5.0. Used when switching frequently between different types of protection.
In addition to the various shade options, Phillips also offers several frame options. Those include wraparound, goggles, metal, face shields, visors and frames for children.
For more information on safety eyewear for glassblowers, check out this video from Phillips.