Eye protection comes in a range of types, styles, colours and protective qualities. In this article, we will look at the various types of eye protection alongside some of the laws and regulation that govern it.


What are the types of eye protection?

There are multiple types of eye protection, from safety goggles to full face shields. Each type of eye protection is specifically designed to protect the eyes from various hazards. Some equipment such as safety masks can also be classed RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) due to its additional protective qualities.


Safety Goggles

Safety goggles are common in various environments such as laboratories and workshops. Safety goggles tend to be made up of an acrylic lens, rubber frame and elastic strap. These can be purchased for low prices and are readily available. Protective goggles are used to protect against particles, shrapnel and in some circumstances vapours and gasses.

Safety goggles, also known as eye goggles, may not be rated for the level of protection required. This is why it is always best to check with a supplier to ensure you purchase the correct level of protection.


Safety Glasses

Safety glasses are a stylish choice of eye protection, although they may not offer the highest level of protection. Safety glasses, also known as safety spectacles, are sold in various PPE stores. Safety glasses are classed as PPE and therefore will need to be provided by the employer at no charge to the employee.

Safety Spectacles are available in a wide range of styles. Safety spectacles can be purchased in various trim colours and lens types such as smoke. Smoke safety spectacles are popular due to some of them having protection against UV.


Face shields

Face shields offer full face protection against flying debris amongst other hazards. Face shields, also known as safety masks, can also offer protection against gases, particles and vapours.

Visors share many similarities to face shields, however they do not offer full-face protection.


What hazards do you need eye protection for?

There is a wide range of potential hazards, which are present in the workplace. These hazards vary dependant on environment. This means there is no one type of eye protection that can protect against all.

Environments such as laboratories and smelting factories can have hazards such as harmful metal or liquid splashes as well as harmful vapours. Another environment in which power tools are used may be prone to particles or projectiles hitting the face. For this type of environment, a full-face mask or visor could be suitable.

If in doubt about PPE, you should consult an expert or your health and safety manager.


What injuries can you get from not wearing eye protection?

A projectile can cause lacerations and penetration. It could also make you go blind and in serious cases, cause death. Other hazards such as vapours can effect both your lungs and eyes. Some types of vapours can be so harmful that immediate contact can cause blindness or be fatal.

Other long-term injuries can be sustained from various types of hazards.


What are the laws and legislation for eye protection?

The main eye protection regulation is EN166 and was introduced in the UK in 2001 by the HSE . This law outlines various rating systems for multiple aspect of protection. These range between heat resistances to mechanical strength.


Another regulations can be used in conjunction with this EN166 to protection against specific hazards. An example of this would be EN170 for protection against UV.

A full list can be found below:

  • EN 169 / EN 379 for Welding filters
  • EN 175 for Eye and face protection during welding and allied processes
  • EN 379 for Personal eye-protection — Automatic welding Filters
  • EN 170 for UV filters
  • EN 171 for IR filters
  • EN 172 / EN 1836 for Sunglare
  • EN 1731 for Mesh type eye and face protectors
  • EN 207 for Filters and eye protection against laser radiation
  • EN 208 for Personal eye protectors for adjustment work on lasers
  • BS 8497-1:2008 – Eyewear for protection against intense light sources used on humans and animals for cosmetic and medical applications
  • EN 14458 for Faceshields and visors for firefighters, ambulance and emergency services
  • EN 174 for Ski goggles for downhill skiing
  • BS 7930-1 for Eye protectors for racket sports – Squash.

Less used regulations include:

  • EN 165 for Personal eye protection – vocabulary.
  • EN 167 for Personal eye protection – optical test methods
  • EN 168 for Personal eye protection – non-optical test methods
  • EN 1836 for Sunglasses and sunglare filters for general use.
  • EN 1938 for Goggles for motorcycle and moped riders
  • BS 4110 for Specification for visors for vehicle users
  • BS 7028 for Eye protection for industrial and other uses. Guidance on selection, use and maintenance
  • BS 8497-2 for Eyewear for protection against intense light sources used on humans and animals for cosmetic and medical applications
  • EN 12254 for Screens for laser working places – Safety requirements and testing National foreword on correct selection procedure.
  • EN 13178 for Eye protective equipment – Eye protectors for snowmobile drivers


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