What Is The Difference Between Safety Glasses And Safety Goggles?


What is the difference between safety glasses and safety goggles? This is a common question posed to our technical team when safety eyewear is being added to an organisation’s PPE range. Safety eyewear, whether that be safety glasses or safety goggles, are an essential part of a PPE range where hazards exist that can lead to short or long-term damage to an employee’s eyes. All safety eyewear must conform to the safety standards set out in EN 166 – Personal Eye Protection Standard.

Benefits of safety eyewear

The first, and most important benefit of safety eyewear is the protection they provide to an individual’s eyes. Injuries to one or both eyes can result in devastating consequences therefore providing your employees with the correct eye protection must be a top priority when choosing their PPE. Both safety glasses and safety goggles are designed to protect or enclose the area surrounding the eye so that particulates, liquids or chemicals are unable to damage the eye.

Safety Glasses

Safety glasses have changed a lot in recent years and are now stylish, modern with a host of innovative features. The lenses can benefit from multiple types of protective coatings therefore they can provide the required protection against many different workplace hazards.

Did you know the size and shape of the lens will make a big difference to how much of the eye area is protected when worn? A larger lens will cover and protect the wearer more and the closer fitting the lens is to the wearers face, the better the eyewear will protect from hazards. Most safety eyewear has a wrap-around concave lens which follows the general shape of the wearer’s face.

The Xcess Safety Glasses are a popular choice for a variety of working conditions and offer an anti-scratch and anti-mist coating to ensure long lasting lens clarity.

Safety glasses are usually the most cost-effective option for protecting against mechanical and optical risks but have significant limitations. They are normally only suitable for protection against low energy impacts up to 45 m/s, marked with the symbol F. Higher impact levels may force the glasses back into the face or penetrate the lens. There is also a danger that particles may pass through the gap between the glasses and face in which case goggles may be a better option.

Safety Googles

Safety goggles are held to the wearers face using an elasticated strap running around the back of the head compared to safety glasses feature side arms to ensure a comfortable fit on the wearers face while. Goggles also have a soft inner seal, often made from foam or rubber which secures the gap between the lens and the wearer’s face.

Due to these differences the impact protection of safety goggles can be higher, up to Medium Energy Impact rating “B” while the face-fitting seal will provide added protection from liquids, chemicals and airborne particles.

Safety goggles also have a ventilation feature to avoid misting and obscured vision. The preferred way to prevent misting is with an anti-mist coating on the lens, so that protection isn’t compromised through the use of vents.

What are the eye protection safety standards?

EN 166 is the leading safety standard for eye protection but there are also several safety standards that relate to other aspects of eye protection including:

EN 169 – Welding Filters
EN 170 – Ultra-Violet Filters
EN 171 – Infra-red Filters
EN 172 – Solar Protection Filters for Industrial Use
EN 175 – Welding Work Equipment
EN 207 – Laser Protection Eyewear
EN 208 – Laser Adjustment Eyewear

Prescription safety eyewear

Many individuals need wear glasses, but standard prescription eyewear does not meet the safety requirements set out in EN 166. Over-Spectacles are a specific style of safety glasses, designed to be worn over the top of prescription eyewear. The Xceed over-specs are an ideal choice with adjustable arms to ensure a secure fit when worn with prescription glasses. However, in recent years prescription safety eyewear is becoming more popular and can be worth the extra cost depending on your job role. Please speak to your PPE provider or the technical experts at Clad Safety who will be able to advise you on purchasing prescription safety eyewear.

Wearing eye protection with other PPE items

Whether you are wearing safety glasses or safety googles, you must ensure that they do not affect the performance of any other PPE items that you are required to wear. Whether that’s the side-arms of safety glasses impacting the performance of earmuffs or a respirator affecting the size of safety goggles that you can wear, an appropriate risk assessment must be carried out.

Choosing the correct safety eyewear is of paramount importance therefore your working environment and the hazards you might face are some of the key factors in determining whether you require safety glasses or safety goggles.

Hopefully this guide has alleviated any confusion and made you more aware of the differences in safety eyewear and choosing the correct PPE for your employees. If you have any doubt, please speak to one of the technical experts at Clad Safety on 0800 161 3661 or email [email protected].