Safety glasses are essential for protecting your vision. Even when you get something silly in your eye, such as an eyelash, it can prove to be irritating and distracting, so imagine if something more serious were to get into your eye.
Wearing the correct eyewear is the best way of protecting your vision from small particles, chemicals, knocks and hot substances. Eye protection should be worn whenever you’re carrying out dust-producing tasks or especially when there is a risk of something flying up and hitting your eye.
A requirement in many work environments, such as construction and in industrial factories, you should also be wearing them when carrying out DIY at home. The dust produced from sanding down the bannisters or a flying stone when strimming the grass could both cause partial or complete vision loss, and safety glasses or safety goggles could stop that.
However, operating power tools and machinery, or working with chemicals, in industrial and manufacturing environments are where the biggest risks lie. This is because of the potential for debris and chippings, as well as the risk of chemical splashes.
Choosing The Correct Safety Glasses
First of all, you need to ensure that the eyewear you choose at least conforms to standard EN 166 for the basic safety requirements.
However, for more specific protection, you need to ensure the eyewear is capable of meeting those demands. These are identified on the lenses and frames of glasses using letters to denote the different tests they have passed.
In order to best know which is best for your workforce, a risk assessment of the specific risks present should be carried out.
Lens protection is separated into different classes; these give guidelines for how long they are suitable to be worn for.
- Class 1 is suitable for continuous work
- Class 2 for intermittent work
- Class 3 for occasional work
As such, Class 1 can be worn for whole shifts, while Class 3 should only be worn as required for specific tasks.
And the mechanical properties are recognised with letters—for both the lenses and frames.
- A – High energy impact (190m/sec)
- B – Medium energy impact (120m/sec) Grade 1
- F – Low energy impact (45m/sec) Grade 2
- S – Increased robustness (general purpose)
- T – Increased robustness at extremes of temperature
Specific Eye Protection
Other hazards which you can protect against include molten metals, radiant heat, hot liquids, intense light or optical radiation.
For those specific risks, there are additional European standards which you must be aware of to ensure the safety glasses and goggles you choose are truly up to the job. These include:
- EN 169 – Welding Filters
- EN 170 – Ultra-Violet Filters
- EN 171 – Infra-red Filters
- EN 172 – Solar Protection Filters for Industrial Use
- EN 175 – Welding Work Equipment
- EN 207 – Laser Protection Eyewear
- EN 208 – Laser Adjustment Eyewear
When choosing protective eyewear, you also need to consider the needs of the specific wearer. For example, if you have prescription glasses, then you’ll want to consider overspec goggles or perhaps having bespoke safety glasses made for the wearer.
In harsh environments, you’ll want to ensure they have an anti-scratch treatment to prevent superficial damage which impairs vision, identified with the letter K. And for mist-treatment which prevents the formation of condensation on the glasses in cold or humid environments, these are identified with the letter N.