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Eye protection is often overlooked as a vital piece of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the UK.

Did you know that over 65,000 people in 2019/2020 sustained an injury whilst at work? Some of these could have been prevented if PPE was worn. One of the main body parts which should be protected when working in the construction industry is the eyes. It is the liability of the employers to carry out risk assessments and inform their employees of the types of protection needed for the job at hand.

To help you determine when and what types of eye protection you should be wearing, and some of the laws and regulations that govern it, we’ve written you a simple guide below:

What Eye Injuries Can Be Sustained from Not Wearing Eye Protection?

There is an array of eye injuries that can happen in the workplace that cause different types of damage. Injuries to the eye can be very painful as the eye is so sensitive and could potentially lead to permanent damage. Some of the injuries include burns, scratches, cuts and radiation exposure.

What Are the Types of Eye Protection?

Depending on the tasks at hand, there are different types of eye protection available to you. Each type is specifically designed to protect your eyes from various hazards that may occur in that environment.

Safety Goggles

The most common form of eye protection – safety goggles are designed with a protective seal around the eyes to prevent particles from entering under or around the goggles. They should be worn to protect your eyes against chemicals, gas, molten metal and impact. For this reason, you’ll typically see safety goggles being worn in laboratories and workshops. These are readily available and can be purchased at a low cost.

In some instances, eye goggles may not provide the required level of protection, which is why it’s always best to check with your employer or a supplier before you purchase.

Safety Spectacles

Safety spectacles, also referred to as safety glasses, can be purchased in a range of styles all of which conform to the very latest safety standards. These include various colours and lens’, some of which have an added layer of protection against UV rays. Here at Mad4Tools, all of our safety glasses conform to the latest safety standards to shield your eyes against hazards such as sharp objects.

Face Shields

Face shields, also known as safety masks, offer a great two in one solution by defending your whole face alongside your eyes. In addition to the full face, this piece of PPE can offer protection against chemicals, flying objects and road debris.

What Are the Laws and Legislation?

The main eye protection regulation is EN166, a European standard covering the requirements for protective eyewear. EN 166 specifies the minimum requirements for a range of performance tests. This standard contains a set of requirements referred to as ‘basic requirements’, which may be regarded as mandatory.

Details of these requirements can be found at Wise Worksafe.

Related eyewear safety standards include:

  • EN ISO 4007:2018 (Replaced EN 165:2005): Personal protective equipment – Eye and face protection – Vocabulary
  • EN 167:2001: Personal eye protection – Optical test methods
  • EN 168:2001: Personal eye protection – Non-optical test methods
  • EN 169:2002: Personal eye protection – Filters for welding and related techniques – Transmittance requirements and recommended use
  • EN 170:2002: Personal eye protection – Ultraviolet filters – Transmittance requirements and recommended use
  • EN 171:2002: Personal eye protection – Infrared filters – Transmittance requirements and recommended use
  • EN 172:1995: Personal eye protection – Sun glare filters for industrial use
  • EN 175:1997: Personal protective equipment – Eye and face protection during welding and allied processes
  • EN 379:2003+A1:2009: Personal eye protection – Automatic welding filters
    EN 1731:2006: Personal eye protection – Mesh eye and face protectors

It is essential for employers to carry out risk assessments to identify when and where safety eye wear should be worn. Eye injuries can be extremely serious and painful, so it is vital to protect against them.

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