The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to improve the efficiency of organizations, often by improving safety. Their set of standards known as ANSI Z87.1 is specifically focused on safety glasses.
The standards within are written to help employers and employees make decisions that can help protect people’s eyes and face from threats including foreign object impact, harmful liquid splashes, non-ionizing radiation exposure, and more.
While ANSI is not a governmental agency, their standards are used in some government regulations. OSHA’s 1910.133 Eye and Face Protection standards are based largely on the ANSI standards.
Updates to Z87.1
The original standards were written in 2003, and have had significant revisions implemented in 2010, and then again in 2015. All companies that wish to comply with ANSI standards should be following the 2015 set of standards, often referenced under the label “ANSI Z87.1-2015.”
ANSI Z87.1 identifies hazards to the eyes so people are aware of what they need protection from. The set of standards lists these as the most common hazards to the eyes and face:
- Blunt Impact – Impact either from someone running into an object or a projectile hitting the eye causing impact.
- Radiation – Radiation can come from many sources, including the sun, and can cause damage to the eyes over time.
- Splashes and Droplets – Liquid chemicals can splash into the eyes causing severe damage.
- Dust – Dust blown up into the air from saws, fans, and other machines can cause serious irritation and temporarily impact eyesight.
Requirements for ANSI Z87.1
In order for a pair of safety glasses to be approved for use under the ANSI Z87.1 standards, they must have been tested to provide sufficient protection against one or more of the hazards to eyes. Third party testing companies can review eyewear and put it through the necessary tests to determine how much protection it offers.
These regulations and tests are designed not only to help ensure workers are protected, but also that the products sold as Z87 compliant are providing the right level of protection. These standards and the appropriate markings make it much easier for employers to be able to get the safety glasses needed.
Labeling Approved Safety Glasses
Any safety glasses that will be used in an ANSI approved facility need to be approved for use against specific hazards. Glasses that are confirmed to provide the protection from specific threats will be labeled on the eyewear itself. In most cases, it will say “Z87” on them and then some additional indicator that can help identify what the glasses are to be used for.
Glasses that are marked Z87 U6 will be approved as having a UV rating of 6, for example. Markings that include a D# format indicate protection from splashing or droplets of liquid, with a D5 indicating protection from fine dust. Workplaces need to understand all the labeling requirements for hazards that are present in their facility to ensure they have adequate protection.