Stroll through any selection of safety eyewear online, and you’ll see the words “ANSI Z87.1-2010 certified” frequently on a variety of safety eyewear options. In fact, many jobs require only ANSI Z87.1-2010 certified safety glasses, also commonly known as “Z87 safety glasses,” and they’re a good idea for many other activities — such as yard work and various recreational activities — too.
But what do these letters and numbers actually mean? Why is the certification is important? How does it help protect your eyes?
The purpose of the ANSI Z87.1-2010 rating is to minimize the severity and frequency of — and to, of course, prevent — injuries from hazards such as impact, radiation, chemical splash, welding, and more. The standard, which is now organized based upon encountered hazards, does this through its general requirements, testing processes and product markings.
General Requirements — Most people take safety seriously and realize the importance of certifications as well as their regulation and enforcement. However, these can be too easily hampered with understanding those same safety certifications, which can get confusing. The ANSI Z87.1-2010 certifications help in this effort by providing a certification system organized based on encountered hazards. This means the choice of safety eyewear revolves around what best represents the protection needed for the specific hazards encountered in the workplace. The most common hazards include:
- Blunt impact
- Splashes and droplets
- Small dust particles
Most safety eyewear retailers and manufacturers now provide packaging and product information revolving around how products meet these standards. In fact, many online retailers even organize their virtual shelves according to the hazard (though most also provide an alternate organization by brand name and other considerations as well).
Testing Processes — Safety glasses have a critical job to do, and there’s simply no room for error or malfunction. ANSI Z87.1-2010 certified safety glasses undergo intensive testing that ensures they’ll protect eyes as expected, so wearers can focus on the task at hand. Tests include those for basic and high-impact for both lenses and frames and for the ability to protect from non-ionizing radiation and exposure to chemicals. Tests also include durability to flammables and corrosion.
Product Markings — ANSI Z87.1-2010 also provides marking that are efficient and easy to understand, which helps make the selection process simpler and the wearing of proper safety eyewear more likely. Those safety markings include:
- Impact: Z87+ indicates high-velocity impact, and Z87 alone indicates basic impact
- Splash and droplet: D3 for splash and droplet and D4 for dust
- Fine dust: D5
- Welding: W (plus the shade number)
- UV: U (plus the scale number)
- Infrared light: R (plus the scale number)
- Visible light filter: L (plus the scale number)
- Prescription: Z87-2 on the front of the front of the frame and both temples
- Head size: H indicates products designed for smaller head sizes
- Other: V for photochromic and S for special lens tint
All safety markings for ANSI Z87.1-2010 safety eyewear must be permanent and clearly marked on the frame front or temple. Also when picking safety eyewear, keep in mind that some activities may require side shields, goggles and full face protection instead of standard safety glasses and that these should have safety markings too.
Workers in almost every industry are exposed to hazards that could cause serious eye injury. But when combined with 100% compliance to a mandatory eye protection program, the right safety eyewear based on the ANSI Z87.1-2010 safety standards helps ensure that doesn’t happen.