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4 Types of Protective Eyewear Sites Should Consider

Posted by Xamax on 27/06/17 08:41

Personal protective equipment is essential for anyone working in hazardous conditions; from construction to network rail, and from engineering to industry, employers are mandated to protect employees from harm. PPE should only be used as a last resort - as other safety measures should be the first line of defense to protect your employees.

protective eyewear.jpg

Eye safety is paramount for those who work with glass, debris, chemicals, or mechanical parts that could break. Many eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the correct protective eyewear, and not simply sunglasses or prescription glasses because these are not designed to protect eyes from splashes or impact.

To help you choose the best protective eyewear for your job, we look at some of the factors you need to consider and take a closer look at four types of safety eyewear available.


What Am I Protecting Against?

  • Chemical or metal splash
  • Molten Metal
  • Dust
  • Projectiles
  • Impact
  • Gas and vapour
  • Radiation

Types of PPE Protective Eyewear You Can Use

Portwest Avenger Safety Spectacle Smoke 

1. Safety spectacles (clear or tinted safety glasses): 

  • Clear provides standard protection
  • Amber removes blue light for low-light environments
  • Grey and brown SCT protect from sun glare, UV rays, and impact for outdoor use
  • Choose based on colour of lens and comfort
  • Can have metal or plastic sides
  • Piano or prescription lenses available
  • Side available for more than impact protection

Safety glasses are used for general eye protection and protect against flying objects. For laboratory use, safety glasses need eye shields. Each individual needs his or her own safety glasses. The safety rating means that the lenses are tested to withstand the impact of ¼” steel ball at 150 fps (feet per second). 

Who uses them?: Industries that need low impact protection, but not from smaller particles that can go around the glasses

Portwest Slim Safety Goggles

2. Goggles / Overspecs:

  • Encase the area surrounding eyes
  • For areas with dust and airborne debris
  • Some have features such as anti-mist, anti-scratch lenses, and adjustable straps
  • Overspects are used by individuals who wear glasses to protect eyes and glasses in laboratories, manufacturing, and construction
  • Overspecs do not always encase the area around the eyes entirely
  • For laboratory use, safety glasses and goggles are a must, depending on useage
  • Use when you need more than impact protection
  • Provide complete eye protection
  • Can wear with glasses
  • Best when grinding metal as fragments cannot get into eyes
  • Only available in clear lenses
  • Available in direct, indirect, or non-ventilated types
  • May be rigid or flexible

Who uses them?: Industries that need to protect the entire eye from impact, chemicals, and so forth


3. Face screens / face shields:

  • Used as secondary protection in conjunction with safety glasses or goggles
  • Heat, chemical, and impact resistance without impairing vision
  • Protect from flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles
  • Face shields alone do not protect eyes from impact hazard
  • Made from different transparent materials  
  • Vary in thickness
  • Thickness corresponds with task

Who uses them?: Manufacturing industry, medical industry (when exposed to infectious substances), police (riot protection), construction (debris or sparks), welding (metal spray),  and so forth

 Browguard and Visor with Ear Defenders

4. Visors / Browguards:

  • Protects wearer from the front
  • Visor fits into headband to shade or protect eyes
  • Can be clear or tinted
  • Can be attached to safety helmet
  • Visors and browguards are worn together  
  • Provide complete face protection from chemical splashes, molten metal, high velocity impact (from cutting and grinding)

Who uses them?: Industries with high-velocity impact, chemicals, heat, and so forth

Note: Whichever eye protection you choose, it needs to have the right combination of protection for the user, and must fit properly

Safety Standards

Here are some of the European Standards for Protective Eyewear:

  • EN 166: Requires eye protection in industries with potential eye hazards, or anything likely to impair or damage vision.
  • Exemptions for nuclear radiation, x-rays, laser beams, and low temperature infrared  
  • EN 170 Ultraviolet filters
  • EN 171 Infrared filters
  • EN 172 Sunglare filters for industrial use
  • EN 175 Eye and face protection during welding

Lens Material

As well as carefully choosing the type of protective eyewear you will need, you will also have to consider what type of lens material to choose. Each material offers its pros and cons.


  • Not easily scratched
  • Can be heavy and uncomfortable
  • Fog easily


  • Lighter than glass
  • Less likely to fog
  • Not as scratch resistant


  • Not as scratch resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Not likely to fog
  • Stronger than glass or plastic
  • More impact resistant

Replacement Rates and Maintenance

Despite condition, glasses should be replaced at least every 3 years. Replace damaged, scratched, pitted, broken, bent, or ill-fitting glasses as these do not provide protection.

Replace damaged parts with original manufacturer parts only to ensure the same safety rating.

Clean protective eyewear daily following manufacturer’s instructions. To clean, blow loose dirt and debris from the lenses; rinse under running water (with or without detergent); or use lens cleaning wipes or spray. Avoid rough handling as scratches impair vision and weaken lenses. Store protective eyewear in cases or another clean, dry place to avoid scratching, falling, or being trodden on.

Fit Test

For safety glasses/goggles

  • eye size, bridge size, and temple length vary; glasses should be individually fitted
  • temples should fit comfortably over the ears
  • frame should be as close to the face as possible with adequate support on the bridge of the nose
  • choose based on colour of lens and comfort
  • glasses/goggles should fit close to the face to minimise gaps
  • find a style that is comfortable to wear

For visors and browguards / face screens / face shields  

  • adjust browguard to fit comfortably but snugly on head (many come with adjustable head gear)


Basically, the type of eyewear you should buy to protect your on site employees depends on the hazards they face and their needs (comfort, fit, colour lenses, and so forth). Remember that it’s better to over protect than under protect, so if that means safety goggles and visors, then make sure that everyone’s eyes are shielded appropriately.

What Xamax Offers

Just a small selection of what we have to offer:

Portwest Umbra Polarised Spectacle

Portwest Avenger Safety Spectacle Smoke

Portwest Slim Safety Goggles

Portwest Welding Goggle


Need more help choosing the right PPE equipment? Download our PPE Compliance Checklist to see what you need: 

PPE Checklist CTA

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