Eyes can be especially vulnerable to a range of risks in the workplace. When accidents occur, our eyesight can quickly become seriously harmed, permanently damaged, or lost altogether.
In certain situations, to avoid damage, they must be protected against mechanical, chemical, radiation and risks relating to laser light.
It is a legal requirement for employers to provide safety glasses or appropriate vision protection where there is the chance of serious harm to employees’ eyes. If the right safety eyewear is not provided, then employers run the risk of severe legal and reputational consequences.
Governed by a stringent set of industry standards, workplace safety eyewear, which includes safety glasses, safety goggles, safety face shields/visors and safety sunglasses, is designed to protect workers’ eyes against damage caused by risks related to mechanical equipment and operations, chemicals, radiation and laser light falls into four categories:
In this blog, we explore what to consider when choosing the correct protective eyewear for your workforce.
What are the safety risks to eyesight?
For health and safety reasons, a workplace risk assessment should always be carried out on a regular basis to assess the hazards there are, and see how and where they’ve changed. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that this is done once a year. In addition to identifying where changes have occurred, there may also be new risk factors to take into account.
Risk assessments should help you to establish which are the correct safety glasses and safety goggles for your workforce, provide a clear understanding of the hazards and identify workplace risks which are not always immediately apparent.
Industry standards for protective eyewear
The main industry standard relating to the use of protective eyewear in the workplace is EN 166:2002. All safety glasses and goggles, and vision protection must be certified to this standard. EN 166:2002 includes a number of protective classifications relating to fields of use, optical class, mechanical strength and optional requirements.
There are also the EN 167:2002 and EN 168:2002 standards, which detail the principal criteria against which EN 166 protective eyewear must be tested. EN 167:2002 covers optical testing for workplace protective eyewear and EN 168:2002 details non-optical testing requirements.
There are also secondary industry standards, which relate to types of protective eyewear and types of workplace use. Our Guide to Protective Eyewear provides detailed information on all the standards but in brief these secondary standards are:
- EN169:2002 (eyewear filters for welding and related techniques)
- EN 170:2002 (ultraviolet filters for protective eyewear)
- EN 171:2002 (infrared filters for protective eyewear)
- EN172:1995 (solar radiation filters for protective eyewear)
- EN 175:1997 (eyewear filters for welding and related techniques)
- EN 379:2003+A1:2009 (ultraviolet filters for protective eyewear)
- EN 207:2017 (infrared filters for protective eyewear)
- EN 208:2009 (solar radiation filters for protective eyewear)
- EN1731:2006 (solar radiation filters for protective eyewear)
When choosing protective eyewear for your employees, lens material and lens shade are also important considerations and it is critical that the safety glasses or safety goggles are the right type.
Choosing the correct safety eyewear
It’s important to note that all workplaces are very different and the hazards that eyes must be protected against can be extremely diverse. For this reason it’s vital to carry out a risk assessment and give careful consideration when choosing the right safety glasses and goggles for your workforce.
You should always base your choice of protective eyewear on the most severe hazard that your employees will face. If you are unsure as to which protective eyewear you require, our experts are always on hand to provide advice and assistance.
Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.
The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements.