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Safety eyewear and the EN166 standard

Accidents happen. There are workplace eye injuries every day that could have been prevented by adequate safety eyewear that can provide protection against flying debris from grinding, drilling or cutting, chemical splashes, dust, molten metal, lasers and welding radiation from arcs.

Eye protection and face protection comes in many forms - there are safety glasses that can have prescription lenses, goggles that enclose the eyes, spoggles that combine the best features of protective glasses and safety goggles as well as mesh visors for forestry, visors, face shields and hoods that offer higher levels of coverage and protection. You should selected the most suitable for the job.

European Union legislation regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) covers all safety eyewear which must be assessed and CE marked before it can be sold. One of the most important eyewear standards is EN 166: 2002 - Personal eye protection. These specifications are for the basic requirements for general safety eyewear

Safety eyewear and the EN166 standard


All manufacturers of safety eyewear are required to have their products independently tested against a European standard EN166.

Both the frame and the lens are tested, so both must include the CE symbol (certifying that it has met the requirements ) and the manufacturer’s logo.

Frame Markings

The frame will usually be marked on the inside of both arms with EN166.

Next will be numbers and / or letters which indicate to what degree the frames passed the EN166 test within various categories.

Shape or design of the frame

  • 3
    Protects against liquid droplets and splashes.
    This is usually only found on goggles where a full seal is made around the eyes

  • 4
    Protects against large dust particle ( over 5 microns in size)

  • 5
    Protect against dust and fine dust particles ( smaller than 5 microns )

Strength of the frame

A frame can have a combination of these markings.

  • S
    withstand impacts of small objects (6 mm, 0.86 g ball) travelling up to 12 m/sec

  • F
    withstand impacts of small objects travelling up to 45 m/sec
  • B
    withstand impacts of small objects travelling up to 120 m/sec

  • A
    withstand impacts of small objects travelling up to 190 m/sec

  • T
    If the code has a T following it (FT, BT, AT ) it can withstand impacts at extreme temperatures

 

Lens Markings

Unlike the frame, lenses can meet various safety standards including EN166, 169, 170 & 172.

The manufacturer’s mark and the CE mark are mandatory.

In addition will be the degree of solar or UV radiation protection, the optical quality and then the mechanical strength.

Radiation Protection

  • 2
    UV Protection (EN170)
    The number 2 indicates the filter may effect colour recognition

  • 2C or 3
    UV Protection (EN170)
    The number 2C (previously 3) indicates that the filter allows good colour recognition

  • 4
    Infrared Protection (EN171)
    Protection from heat

  • 5
    Solar Protection (EN172)
    100% UV sun glare protection - with no infrared (IR) protection

  • 6
    Solar Protection (EN172)
    100% UV sun glare protection - with infrared (IR) protection

Lens Shading

  • 1.2
    allows 74.4% to 100% light transmission

  • 1.7
    allows 43.2% to 58.1% light transmission

  • 2.5
    allows 17.8% to 29.1% light transmission

  • 3.1
    allows 8.0% to 17.8% light transmission

Optical quality

  • 1 - Class 1
    High optical quality suitable for continuous use.
    Refractive power of ± 0.06 dioptres.

  • 2 - Class 2
    Medium optical quality suitable for intermittent use.
    Refractive power of ± 0.12 dioptres

  • 3 - Class 3
    Low optical quality suitable for occasional use but must not be worn continuously.
    Refractive power of ±0.25 dioptres

Mechanical Strength

  • S - Increased Robustness (General Purpose)
    Can withstand impact of a 22 mm, 43 g ball travelling at 12 m/sec or falling 1.3m.

  • F - Low Energy Impact
    Can withstand impact of small objects (6 mm, 0.86 g ball) travelling up to 45 m/sec.
    This is usually the maximum for safety glasses having side arms.

  • B - Medium Energy Impact
    Can withstand impact of small objects travelling up to 120 m/sec.
    This is usually the maximum for safety goggles.

  • A - High Energy Impact
    Can withstand impact of small objects travelling up to 190 m/sec.
    This is usually the maximum for safety visors (polycarbonate)

  • T - High Temperature Impact
    Can withstand impacts of extreme temperature particles (-5 to +55 °C). 
    This is only used on a very limited range of products.

Lens coating

  • K - Resistance to Mechanical Damage (Anti-Scratch)
  • N - Resistance to Misting / Fogging

Other standards that apply to safety eyewear

  • 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
Written by Chris at 29/06/2018

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