According to Health & Safety statistics 2015/2016, eye injuries are common and can be very dangerous.

The majority of eye injuries occur from objects or substances getting in contact with the eye, for example, bad planning/preparation for the job, incorrect or no PPE. Approximately 70% of eye injuries result from flying or falling objects and contact with chemicals causes approximately 20% of injuries (HSE, 2015/2016). That is why it is vital to have the right PPE to prevent such an occurrence.

When do you need safety eyewear?

If you work with any of the following, some form of eye protection is essential:

Radiation & Light:

This can include high-intensity lights, ultraviolet radiation, and lasers. These require eye protection that will provide both a physical barrier and light reducing properties. Welders and other workers subject to high-intensity radiation need to wear PPE designed specifically for the task.


When working with chemicals you must have safety goggles appropriate for the job. If chemical splashes near your eyes this could have severe health implications.


Tasks that involve cutting material such as wood, plastic, glass, or metal can cause pieces to fly out towards the eye area. In serious cases, this could lead to blinding. When working with wood especially, there is the additional risk of sawdust and other small particles, which could cause eye irritation or infection. In some cases, you may need side shields or full face protection.


Health workers need protection from bloodborne pathogens that could infect workers with viruses such as hepatitis or HIV. Specialised glasses need to be worn that protect the eyes from blood splashes.

Power tools:

Apart from the aforementioned dangers from projectiles, tools themselves present a hazard. For example, a power drill or chainsaw can slip and hit the face, and nail and staple guns can be dangerous too. This is why eye protection is needed at all times when working with power tools.

Make sure your PPE meets the correct safety standards required for the job!

There are a number of British Standards which currently cover the manufacture of eye protection which should be considered where appropriate:


EN 166 Basic Standard “Specifications”

EN 167 “Optical test methods”

EN 168 “Test methods other than optical”

EN 169 “Welding filters”

EN 170 “Ultraviolet filters”

EN 171 “Infrared filters”

EN 172 “Solar protection filters for industrial use”

EN 175 “Welding work equipment”

EN 207 “Glasses for laser protection”

EN 208 “Glasses for laser adjustment”

EN 379 “Specification concerning welding filters”

It is vital to ensure that protective eyewear is up to the job. The ‘K’ (anti-scratch) and ‘N’ (anti –mist) coating on the lens of the safety eyewear indicates a compliance with the standard set by EN 166. This is Basic Standard “Specifications” that covers all the basic requirements for safety eyewear and will be marked on the lens and frame accordingly. By EN laws all safety eyewear must have ‘K’ or ‘N’ marks, so any lenses lacking these symbols do not reach the required standard.

Our partner Bollé Safety designs and markets personal protective equipment for eye protection for industrial use consistent with the Directive 89/686/EEC, and to the harmonised standard EN 166:2001. Each Bollé Safety product is tested and certified by independent laboratories (Certottica, INSPEC, Vincotte, etc.)

Bollé EN166 lens testing:

K Standard

K standard testingThe diagram to the right illustrates the EN166 K (anti-scratch) standard being tested by Bollé. This test usually occurs on the outside of the lens and ensures the surface hardness is a barrier against surface damage caused by fine particles.  The coating is permanent and must supply a high resistance to scratching (1.4 cd / m²), to the most aggressive chemicals the standard K (anti-scratch) requires a rate of <5 cd / m². (Bolle)

N Standard

N standard testing

Bollé Safety has developed an innovative technology through their vision of what safety glasses should be like. They believe that the risk of scratch and fog don’t focus on one side of the lens, that’s why the permanent PLATINUM® coating is applied to BOTH sides of the lenses.

Bolle Safety are also the first company in the world to supply all their prescription lenses with Platinum anti-scratch and anti-fog coating as standard and at no extra charge. Bunzl Greenham work closely with Bolle to provide an expert prescription safety eyewear package to cater for all customers. Click here to read more about the prescription eyewear service provided.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Greenham Pulse is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Greenham Pulse is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.