Workers in nearly every industry can benefit from eye protection. Construction workers can protect against sawdust, laboratory workers can guard against harmful chemical splashes, and metalworkers can protect themselves from sparks, shrapnel, and other hazards.
It’s important, then, to use the right eye protection for the job.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) aims to make that an easier and safer process. Its standard for eye protection, ANSI Z87.1-2015, establishes the criteria for using, testing, marking, choosing, and maintaining eye protection to prevent or minimize injuries from eye hazards.
This article breaks down the standard to help employers make an informed choice when selecting and providing eye protection.
What’s new in ANSI Z87.1-2015?
ANSI updated the standard most recently in 2015. The most important part of the update is organizing equipment by hazard it counteracts. This trend started with the 2010 standard. It reflects the importance of choosing the right protective gear.
The update also added and changed several application-specific requirements, hazards, and equipment. It also updated equipment testing methods to reflect similar global standards.
Does OSHA Require ANSI Z87.1-2015 Compliance?
Not exactly. OSHA’s eye protection standard for general industry, 29 CFR §1910.133(b)(2), only states that OSHA will accept eye protection that can be demonstrated to be at least as effective as protective eye and face protection devices that are constructed in accordance with:
- ANSI Z87.1-2010
- ANSI Z87.1-2003
- ANSI Z87.1-1989 (R-1998)
- ANSI Z87.1-1989
Given that ANSI Z87.1-2015 is demonstrated to be at least as effective as the earlier standards, items that meet the most recent standard are considered acceptable by OSHA.
Eye Protection Marking
The Z87.1-2010 and Z87.1-2015 standards have also been harmonized with eye and face protection standards used in other countries. This makes it easier to work internationally and understand eye protection requirements.
ANSI Z87.1 requires markings on eye protection that relate directly to the device’s ability to defend against specific hazards. Eye protection that’s Z87.1-compliant is marked with "Z87."
Additional markings fall into three categories:
- Impact vs. Non-Impact
- Splash and Dust Protection
- Optical Radiation Protection
Impact vs. Non-Impact
ANSI Z87.1 classifies eye protection as impact- or non-impact-rated. Impact-rated eye protection must pass certain high-mass and high-velocity tests, and provide eye protection from the side. Impact-rated eye protection will have a plus symbol (+). Impact-rated flat lenses, for instance, will be marked “Z87+.”
Chemical Splash and Dust Protection
Eyewear that meets ANSI Z87.1 requirements for droplet (splash) or dust protection will be marked with a code that begins with the letter "D". For example:
- Eye protection that provides protection from droplets and splashes is marked with “D3”
- Eye protection that provides dust protection is labeled “D4”
- Eye protection that provides fine dust protection is labeled “D5”
Optical Radiation Protection
A lenses’ ability to protect against radiation is indicated by a letter designation, which is typically followed by a rating number. The markings are as follows:
- Welding Filter: “W” followed by a shade number on a scale from 1.3 to 14.
- Ultra-violet (UV) Filter: “U” followed by a number on a scale from 2 to 6.
- Infra-red (Heat) Filter: “R” followed by a number on a scale from 1.3 to 10.
- Visible Light (Glare) Filter: “L” followed by a number on a scale from 1.3 to 10.
- Clear lens: No additional marking
- Variable tint: “V”
- Special purpose: “S”
When appropriate, two additional markings will appear on eye protection:
- Eye protection designed for a smaller head size will be marked with the letter “H.”
- Prescription lenses will have the manufacturer’s logo.
Eye protection may have several markings if it meets requirements for two or more categories. For example: Lenses marked “Z87+L8D3D4” provide impacted-rated eye protection, glare reduction, and protection against droplets and dust.
Eye Protection and Safety Resources
Labeling and signage can alert employees when PPE is required, where to find it around a facility, and which eye hazards exist. DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products can assist in developing visual communication that keeps employees safe.
Graphic Products strives to improve the health and safety of employees. The company’s PPE for the eyes and face—including safety glasses, goggles, and eyewash stations—protects workers and encourages a hazard-free facility.