eyewear guidance

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Eye injuries can translate in the most serious cases to loss of a worker's eyesight. For those less seriously injured, they cause pain, discomfort and result in time off work. Employers must provide PPEthat offers suitable protection to personnel who may be exposed to potential health risks at work and this includes eye protection. Jacqui Gamage from JSPlooks at what products are available and when they should be used.


uring 2006/07, 113 workers lost the site in one or both eyes as a result of an accident at work and over 500 workers suffered major non-fatal eye injuries, defined by the Reporting of


Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)

as eye injuries caused by a chemical or hot metal burn, or a penetrating injury to the eye.
In addition to these major injuries, many workers suffer eye injuries which result in them being off work for over three days (as reportable under RIDDOR)- 1,651 in 2006/07. Yet most eye injuries are easily preventable. The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 stipulate that PPEmust be supplied and used at work whenever there is a risk to health and safety which cannot be controlled in other ways, such as through organisational changes or engineering controls. Eye protection is a requirement under Regulation 4 of the regulations.


The RoSPA Occupational

Safety & Health Journal November 2008 35

Potential eye hazards
• Hammering, grinding, sanding, and masonry work that may produce particles Handling chemicals may lead to splashes in the eye Wet or powdered cement in the eye can cause a chemical burn Welding leads to exposure to arcs and flashes (intense UV radiation) for welders, helpers and bystanders Dusty or windy conditions can lead to particles in the eye Eye injuries can result from simply passing through an area where work is being performed Co-workers around or above you may generate the hazard

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Hazards to eyes in the workplace include: chemical or metal splash

dust projectiles gas and vapour radiation There is a huge selection of products which effectively protect against these

workplace hazards. The choice of protective products starts with simple goggles and safety glasses but also includes welding shields, mesh visors and specialised clear and tinted face screens for all kinds of work from forestry to pharmaceuticals. Eye protection products can be grouped into six categories:


Source: too/box-eye. htm/

Example of markings on safety spectacles showing the resistance and filtering qualities of the product



opticaid~~ en~y..!:lass
(F is low, B is medium,

A is high energyl

highest, 3 lo~ trademark" (hig_her number =- mor~ filtering)

Manufacturer's Filteringpifur.rnance

Filtering class (2 - UV filters,S -- Su-nglare filtersf

Markings on goggles are different. The body of a goggles product may carry the following:


EN166:2001 3.4.9-8
l!f1p~(en~gy class (F is low, B is medium) Molten metal flrotection optiOri' Dust protection [quid Option

drofllet r>rotection ofltion

European Standard number Manufacturer's trademark""'

Safety eyeshields - suitable for visitors to factories or other persons observing work where the risk of flying particles is low. • Safety spectacles - these again are suitable for visitors to factories or other persons observing work where the risk of flying particles is low, but are also for operators of low speed machinery where there is a low to moderate risk of flying particles. Spectacles and eyeshields can only be offered as protection against low energy impact because they sit on the wearer's nose where the impact has to be absorbed. If higher velocity impacts are possible then goggles and faceshields must be considered. • Low energy liquid, dust safety goggle - suitable for use where the main hazard is liquid droplets, for example when using cleaning fluids or handling chemicals. • Medium energy impact safety goggle - suitable for use in areas where the main hazard is large flying particles. • Medium energy liquid, dust safety goggle - designed for use where the hazards are small flying particles, liquid droplets and dust, such as when pressure washing or operating high speed machine tools. • Faceshields - suitable for use in areas where the hazards include liquid splash and where there is a need to protect the whole face. Matching eye and face protection with the job being carried out is not always straightforward, but there is advice available. Good



November 2008 The RoSPA Occupational

Safety & Health Journal

sources of information includes the HSE website ( and safety eyewear manufacturers and suppliers. JSP deals every day with questions about the right products for the job. Users are unsure about UV protection, impact resistance, problems with misting up, dust seepage, scratch resistance and the durability of coatings, welding issues and the use of PPE with prescription eyewear. Listed here are examples of the most common questions we are asked by safety eyewear users: My health and safety officer has said that I need to use Grade B eye protection, but I can't find spectacles that are to that requirement?

Meaning of the protection symbol

Protects against liquid droplets and/or splashes. Equivalent to former SS2092 C.

Used for working with corrosive and toxic liquids. Usually has indirect ventilation. Used for general work in workshops. Usually has indirect or no ventilation. Has no ventilation and lens may mist up. Will also carry the 3 and 4 code numbers.


Protects against large dust particles. Equivalent to former SS2092 D.


Protects against toxic and corrosive gases, vapours, sprays, smoke and dusts. Equivalent to former SS 2092 ~ Protects against short-circuit in electrical equipment. No former SSequivalent. Protects against splashes of molten metals and penetration of hot solids. Equivalent to former SS2092 M.


Grade S is tested by firing steel balls at the eye protector at 270mph (430kph). The European Standard does not allow for spectacles to be tested at this speed because the impact would be absorbed by the wearer's nose which makes them suitable for only low impact energy risk. For Grade S protection you need goggles or a faceshield. Generally speaking, if you are using hand tools spectacles will be needed and goggles or faceshields will be needed if you are using power tools. What goggle do I need for chemical 'X'?

Required when foundry work is being carried out.

Meaning of the impact resistance symbol

Low-energy impact


Can be applied to all types of eye protection. Equivalent to former SS2092 2 and recommended for use in workshops. Applied to either g0ggles or faceshields. Equivalent to former SS2092 1. Applied only to specialised faceshields. No former SS2092 equivalent.

Mediurn-enerqy impact

It will depend on the chemical and how it is being used. If you are spraying the chemical you will need a goggle that has liquid droplet protection but if you are working with it in a liquid form and the risk is from splashes, then a faceshield or goggle would be okay. Depending on the chemical, it may be a good idea to protect the face with a faceshield as well as using goggles.

High-energy impact


PPE at Work Regulations 1992
he main requirement of the regulations is that personal protective equipment is to be supplied and used at work wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways. The regulations also require that PPE:


• • • •

is properly assessedbefore use to ensure it is suitable; is maintained and stored properly; is provided with instructions on how to use it safely; and is used correctly by employees.


The RoSPA Occupational

Safety & Health Journal November 2008 37





Safety eyewear testing

Check the fit of your safety glasses
• • The biggest gaps are usually near the corners of the glasses The bigger the gap the more exposure to hazards coming from a slight angle from above or below Glassesthat are not snug against the face also create larger gaps in protection Some safety glasses are made in different sizes to fit different shape faces Different styles also may fit one person better than another Adjustable temples and eyewear retainers or straps help hold the glasses in the proper position close to the face


My goggles are always misting up, what can I do? .



A goggle encloses part of the face and moisture will fog the lens unless you have anti-mist coatings. Even with these coatings you will eventually get some build up of moisture on the lens. If wiping the lens dry you will eventually wipe the coating off, so drying must be done with care.


I am cutting stone which seems to be making some very fine dust, what type of eye protector protects against fine dust?


• •


A goggle that has the marking "5" on the frame. Usually this will be an unvented body with an anti-mist /fog lens fitted. As well as the eye protection you will need to think about some respiratory protection too. I have to wear prescription spectacles, which goggles should I be using?

No. Eye protection for this situation must be Medium Energy - EN166B. Goggles to this standard will give the correct protection, but consider using a faceshield of this grade to give protection to the whole face. The markings on safety spectacles will show the impact resistance and filtering qualities of the product (See box on page 36). For example, if the marking on a goggle housing is EN166 34-8 it shows that the goggle meets the requirements of EN166, can be used to protect the wearer's eyes against corrosive or toxic droplets or liquid splashes (3), against large dust particles (4) and withstands medium-energy impact (8). Grade A impact resistance is tested by firing steel balls at the eye protector at 270mph (430kph).

Source: toolbox-eye.html


Any goggle that allows the wearers prescription spectacles to fit under it. The larger the goggle the better, because this reduces the possibility of the lens touching the prescription eyewear. It should be noted that not only is impact protection reduced but also the liquid splash and gas/ dust protection properties because the spectacle arms will hold the goggle's faceseal away from the wearer's face. The optical properties of the goggle and your spectacles combined may affect vision, and if you notice eye strain or headaches you should only wear the combination for short periods.


Understanding the nature of the hazard, mitigating it with control measures and if necessary using the European Standards to select appropriate PPE is all that the law requires. No worker need be at risk of eye injury or employer at risk of non-compliance or litigation if these steps are taken.

Further information
• A short guide to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.!pubnS/indg174.pdf COSHHessentials: Harm via skin or eye contact (S102).Selecting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).HSEfree leaflet.!pubns/guidance/ s102.pdf
PPE manufacturer JSP( operates a technical helpline to answer questions on the use and selection of industrial eye protection. The helpline number is 01993 826051.


Can I wear safety spectacles when using a staple gun (speed 100m/s) because the leaflet with it says wear eye protection?


38 November 2008 The RoSPA Occupational Safety


Health Journal