The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work regulations 1992 contain the guidelines for protecting the body, including the face and eyes. Hazards to the eyes and face include chemical/metal splashes, dust, projectiles, gas/vapour, radiation, temperature extremes, hair tangled in machinery and the risk of the head being knocked. The protection with safety goggles, face screens, safety helmets and hairnets are vital. Neck protection should also be considered, for example, using scarves when welding. Full face respirators may be required when one is working in gaseous/asbestos and fine dust particle environments.

In welding and flame cutting, operators must use specific eye protection that conform to the relevant standards. Protection includes filters (auto-darkening and fixed) as well as impact resistance protectors. Spot welding is the more controllable task and therefore only a safeguard against splatter is required. Safeguards should also protect against UV light. Eyes should be covered at all stages of the work. Goggles should be worn when dusting down chipping.

The protective equipment used for face protection in welding and other hazardous work should have European and British Standards makings. This is denoted by a series of numbers/lettering. A guard used in welding, for example, will contain letters that denote its mechanical strength, and, whether, for example, it is resistant to hot solids or molten splashes. If a darkened face shield is required, then the shield will have markings for this. There can be other properties of face and eye protectors, for example, mechanical strength, resistance to abrasion, mechanical and electrical properties. For fire-fighters and emergency services, faceguards that are resistant to extremes of temperature are specifically relevant. There are also eye protectors for colder extremes, for example, snowmobile drivers. The eye/face protection must have the right combination of protective qualities for the situation in which it is being used, for example, special protectors for dust, splashes and temperatures. Protectors must fit the user correctly.

Regular monitoring and having replacement parts at the ready, if required, should be part of the management and caring for all PPE. A qualified person should check everything is working OK and report any signs of wear, broken parts and ill-fitting PPE. Operators need to be well trained and report any PPE issues that may occur. If in doubt what PPE to select, the supplier/manufacturer will be able to advise what to use for the specific task. Also, a health and safety professional will be able to direct what to use to comply with the law.


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