By providing staff with suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) this reduces the risk of harm. This is also a requirement of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPEWR). Regulation 2 of the PPEWR states that employers must assess the suitability of all PPE by taking into account the nature of the risk, working conditions, length of time the PPE is to be worn and individual fit. Items worn must be CE marked to show that they comply with the applicable European standards.
There are different types of eye protection on the market which are available:-
- Safety spectacles/glasses – these look like prescription glasses or sunglasses. They can incorporate side shields and some types can be fitted with prescription lenses.
- Safety over-glasses or eye shields – these are designed to fit over existing prescription spectacles and are commonly used to protect visitors or other occasional users.
- Goggles – These protect the eye area from all angles as the complete rim is in contact with the face. They have a plastic frame and one or two lenses depending on their purpose and grade. There are ventilated and unventilated products, the latter being suitable to protect from chemicals and fine dusts.
- Face shields – These are mounted on a helmet or head harness and cover the whole face. However, they do not fully enclose the eyes.
In 2013 an employee of a company was struck in the eye by a shard of metal caused by a colleague’s operation of a nail gun. In court in November 2015 the company was criticised for failing to provide appropriate eye protection. The injured party, had no PPE protection and the nail gun operator, was only wearing safety spectacles, not goggles. The company pleaded guilty to a breach of the PPEWR and was fined £6,500.