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A safer vision

24 January 2019

LEADING SAFETY expert Arco is keen to increase both employers and employee’s understanding of the different safety ratings before purchasing safety glasses.

According to RIDDOR, a loss or reduction of sight accounted for 126 of all non-fatal injuries to employees while at work in 2017/18. Experts believe that 90% of those injuries could have been prevented with the correct safety eyewear. 

In recent years, there has been an increase of high street retailers selling prescription safety eyewear, however, without advice from qualified safety experts, employers could potentially be placing their workforce in danger. Those procuring safety glasses, whether that’s the employer or the employees themselves, need to be aware of the level of protection they require. In order to do this, employers should be completing a comprehensive risk assessment as different industries and applications require different impact and chemical protection levels and briefing those that are responsible for purchasing the safety glasses. 

To ensure employers are fully protecting their workforce, they should make themselves aware of the protection ratings under BS EN 166:2001:

  • Soffering the least amount of protection and no impact protection

  • Foffering the lowest level of impact protection

  • Boffers a mid-range impact protection 

  • Aoffering the highest-level protection against speed projectiles 

Arco’s director of QSHE UK & Asia, Neil Hewitt advises, “The thing to remember is that high street retailers and opticians aren’t personal protective equipment (PPE) professionals – and this becomes clear if the focus is around the cost and style rather than the key safety aspects. The lack of understanding of the PPE regulations and standards requirements can put workers at risk of serious, life altering accidents. It is essential that those purchasing or wearing safety glasses are getting the correct protection that they need for the hazards that they are exposed to”

Neil Hewitt also advises that high street safety glasses cannot meet all the requirements for different applications required by EN 166:2001 for high speed impacts. Workers who require both high impact protection above the absolute minimum level of protection and prefer prescription safety glasses will need to also be provided with over goggles and face screens – advice such as this often isn’t offered at many high street retailers as this is not normally part of their product offer and they may not be aware of the full extent of the EN166 product safety standard: “Spectacle type eyewear can only be certified to EN166, level F, which is the lowest impact requirement and not suitable for those using high speed power tools or machining equipment. It’s concerning that high street retailers often don’t relay this message to customers, meaning workers think they are fully protected when in fact they could be far from it.”

To offer UK businesses additional information when purchasing safety glasses, Arco experts have created the following easy Step by Step guide:

  • Complete a risk assessment: Employers need to carry out a risk assessment that clearly identities which rating employees require, as well as identifying whether they will require over-goggles. 

  • Equip staff with safety information:If not purchasing prescription safety eyewear from safety experts but instead high street opticians, ensure employees understand what rating they are required to specify during the ordering process. Those working in an opticians may not be trained to understand the safety UK regulations so, therefore, won’t be able to offer expert safety advice regarding different working conditions. 

  • Check the markings on the glasses:Many employees and employers aren’t aware what the marking on the glasses mean. If employers are worried about the glasses that have been provided to their workforce, they can easily check the letters on the lenses to check for the ratings. See below graphic for guidance. 

  • Think about where you buy your safety glasses from:Safety equipment should be procured from safety specialists. This means the correct advice is being conveyed and the risk of serious injury is reduced. 

For more information regarding Arco’s prescription safety eyewear range, please visit www.arco.co.uk