A Peep at Protective Eyewear in the Construction Industry

A Peep at Protective Eyewear in the Construction Industry

25th March 2019

Those of us who work and operate in the UK’s construction industry tend to see a fall from height as one of the greatest risks in the workplace, and rightly so.  However, there are so many other risks and injuries associated with construction, that we need to make sure that the focus is not just on working at height, but covers other areas of work and other types of accident and injury too. 

The construction industry has a much higher rate of eye injuries than any other sector, accounting for more than 20% of all workplace eye injuries.  The construction work site itself is a hazard, as are so many of the activities, tools and materials that are commonly used in construction.   

The most sensitive parts of the body that need to be protected on construction sites are the eyes and face.  Most eye injuries on construction sites result from exposure to hazardous particles, objects or gases and occur during tasks such as cutting, grinding, nailing, welding and working with concrete.  Sites dealing with sparks, smoke, dangerous chemicals and even high winds only serve to increase these risks.

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, require that every employer must ensure that suitable PPE is provided to all employees who may be exposed to heath or safety risks whilst at work, and the self-employed are included under this regulation. 

  • Personal protective equipment must be appropriate for the risks involved and the conditions at the place where exposure to risk may occur.
  • PPE must take into account ergonomic requirements and the state of health of the person(s) who may wear it.

Safety eyewear (safety glasses) should be used to protect the eyes when hazardous conditions exist.  These should be provided by the employer and should be specifically designed for the type of protection needed on construction sites.  Safety glasses used on construction sites should have the right combination of impact/dust/splash eye protection for the task.  It’s vital to ensure that safety eyewear fits each user properly and that workers on site actually use the eye protection solution provided.  It’s surprising just how many workers will neglect to wear eye protection, claiming that it’s uncomfortable, impractical, unwieldy, etc.  This is no excuse and eye protection should be worn whenever mandated.

In cases where employees already wear prescription glasses, protective eyewear can be manufactured with prescription lenses but these need to be individually ordered from a supplier.  As an alternative, some safety helmets incorporate specially designed eye protection that can be used in conjunction with prescription glasses.