Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Protective Eyewear

It is true that the work environment is where we spend most of our time. It is also true that occupations such as metal work (including the production of electrical and electronic appliances), construction work, and even agriculture, are more likely to be vulnerable to eye-related injuries.

A study of the European PubMed Central (Europe PMC) indicates that a 3% of all work related accidents in Europe, are eye-related injuries, identifying that a 4% of them are facing a second (relative or irrelative) injury within the same year. In addition the study revealed that 10 to 20% of the eye-related injuries in Europe, are severe and can result to partial or even permanent blindness.

The European community issued the legislation EN 166 which is the standard covering the specifications for protective eyewear at (but not limited to) the work space. It actually specifies that protective eyewear should and must be used, whenever and wherever there is a potential risk of an eye injury.

Since the occupational hazards vary, so do the requirements of the manufacturing of the protective eyewear. For example, protective eyewear must protect the eyes from impact, flying materials even particles such as dust and provide UV filtration (UV rays can cause prolonged damage in case of continuous exposure to sunlight).  The requirements are consistent and strict depending on the profession, since a farmer needs a different type of protective eyewear than someone who works in the construction sector. In general, protective eyewear is separated into 4 categories, which are a) goggles, b) face shields (i.e. visors), c) safety spectacles and d) sunglasses.

For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind – Eleanor Everet

Last, it is important to note that the European commission, following COVID-19 continuous updates, have already issued guidelines to their manufacturing partners to adjust their products with new requirements, and even increase production to fulfill the needs of the European workers (such as doctors and front line workers during the pandemic). These guidelines are being updated frequently to match the guidelines of specialists and WHO.

Within the European union, employers are required to provide those means that employee needs in order to perform their work safely, but in cases that the employer is also the employee (i.e. self-employed) we come to the conclusion that being responsible and always take safe precaution means, via protective eyewear, is extremely important.

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