ANSI Z87.1 Defined

ANSI is an acronym for the American National Standards Institute, a nonprofit organization. Their primary mission is to…

Enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and safeguarding their integrity.

In other words, ANSI creates uniform testing standards and guidelines for a variety of products and equipment used by businesses in nearly every sector.

The Z87.1 portion references the standard for personal Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices. These standards help ensure personal eye and face protection devices provide the necessary protection from impact, non-ionizing radiation, and liquid splash exposures.

The ANSI Z87.1 standard has been updated twice since 2003, with revisions in 2010 and 2015. These updates focus on product performance and attempt to harmonize with international standards. The updates in ANSI Z87.1-2015 makes an effort to make it easier for users to select the appropriate safety gear based on the potential hazards and complications their environment produces as stated below:

The current ANSI.1-2015 standard continues to differentiate protectors based on specific risks with additional emphasis placed on enabling users to select the appropriate protector based on their environment and the hazard.

Here is a brief outline of changes in the 2015 edition of the ANSI Z87.1 standards. Please note this is only a summary and doesn’t include all the details of every change.

The 2015 revision continues to focus on product performance and harmonization with global standards and fine-tunes the 2010 hazard-based product performance structure noted by the following key changes:

  • Deleted minimum lens thickness from general requirements.
  • Deleted additional impact requirements for specific protector types from impact protector requirements.
  • Added automatic darkening welding filter devices to optical radiation protector requirements.
  • Added angular dependence of luminous transmittance test for automatic welding filter devices.
  • Added Illustrations to aid in refractive power, astigmatism and resolving power testing.
  • Added examples of protector markings (acceptable and unacceptable).
  • Added minimum thickness requirements for prescription lenses.
  • Added refractive power, astigmatism and resolving power tolerances and prism and prism imbalance tolerances for “readers, full-facepiece respirators and loose-fitting respirators.”
  • Added “magnifiers” and “readers” to the marking requirements table.
  • Added information that is to be provided with welding protectors.
  • Hazard Assessment and Protector Selection expanded to include goggle ventilation and peripheral vision.

Construction Worker Edge Safety GlassesSelecting the appropriate eye protection for your environment and it’s potential hazards is critical.

What Are The General Requirements For ANSI Z87.1?

Since most people have never read the ANSI Z87.1 document, they may not fully understand what this certification covers. The ANSI Z87.1 certification helps in this effort by providing a certification system organized based on encountered hazards. This standard 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
  • Radiation
  • Splashes and droplets
  • Dust
  • Small dust particles

Most safety eyewear manufacturers now provide packaging and product information revolving around how products meet these standards. Note that prescription safety lenses are also allowed under this standard. Previously, they had to be a certain thickness, but thinner prescription lenses are now allowed if they meet high-impact testing requirements.

What Is The Testing Processes?

ANSI Z87.1 certified safety glasses undergo intensive testing to ensure they’ll protect eyes as expected. Tests include…

  • Basic and high-impact for lenses and frames.
  • Exposure to non-ionizing radiation and chemicals.
  • Durability to flammables and corrosion.

The following video from Edge Eyewear does an excellent job demonstrating the different tests performed on safety eyewear. After seeing how badly non-safety-rated eyewear fails these basic tests, you’ll only want to purchase ANSI-Z87.1 rated eyewear.

What is the ANSI Z87.1-2015 definition of UV radiation?

The ANSI Z87.1-2015 standard defines UV radiation as follows: Ultraviolet Radiation (UV).Electromagnetic energy with wavelengths from 200 to 380 nanometers.

The UV Scale uses a rather complicated mathematical formula, however, for simplicity, it’s divided into two wavelength categories, far and near.

Far-ultraviolet is defined as; Transmittance of optical radiation with wavelengths from 200 to 315 nanometers weighted by its ability to damage the cornea.

Near-ultraviolet is defined as; Transmittance of optical radiation with wavelengths from 315 to 380 nanometers.

UV Filter Transmittance:

  • U2: Max Effective Far UV= .1% / Max Near UV= 3.7%
  • U2.5: Max Effective Far UV= .1% / Max Near UV= 2.3%
  • U3: Max Effective Far UV= .07% / Max Near UV= 1.4%
  • U4: Max Effective Far UV= .04% / Max Near UV= .5%
  • U5: Max Effective Far UV= .02% / Max Near UV= .2%
  • U6: Max Effective Far UV= .01% / Max Near UV= .1%

What Are The Product Markings?

Starting in 2010 with additional updates in 2015, the ANSI Z87.1 standard requires efficient and easy-to-understand lens & frame markings. These markings help make the selection process more straightforward and increases compliance. Those product markings indicate ratings in the following areas:

  • Impact: “Z87+” indicates a high-velocity impact rating, and “Z87” alone means a basic impact rating.
  • 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 on both temples
  • Head size: H indicates products designed for smaller head sizes
  • Other: V for photochromic and S for special lens tint

Here are the marking requirements for Rx spectacles:

  • Manufacturer’s Mark or Logo on frame or lens.
  • “+” symbol on lenses to indicate they’re impact rated.
  • Z87-2+ on the frame.
  •  Z87+ on detachable side shields if equipped.
  • Prescription frames also require size markings on frame and temples per ANSI Z80.5-2010.

All safety markings for ANSI Z87.1-2015 safety eyewear must be permanently and clearly marked on the frame or lens. This marking requirement includes goggles and face shields as well as safety glasses.

Product Marking Examples

ANSI Z87 Product Markings

ANSI Z87.1-2015 product markings on a pair of Bolle Safety Glasses.

The image above shows a pair of Bolle Safety Glasses with the new ANSI Z87.1-2015 product marking requirements. The marking is broken down as follows…

  • “Z87+” indicates eyewear meets the high-velocity impact requirement.
  • “U6” means the eyewear has a UV rating of 6, which is the highest rating.
  • “S” indicates a special lens tint because these glasses feature Bolle’s ESP lens.

You may encounter safety eyewear with only “Z87” or the manufacturer’s mark with a “+” stamped on the lens or frame. These products, produced before or just after the 2010 standard, are still safe to use. They still meet ANSI Z87.1 high-velocity impact safety standards, but they don’t have the new product marking requirements from the recent 2010 and 2015 standards.


The temple arm from an Oakley M-Frame 2.0 is marked with Z87 to indicate it’s ANSI Z87.1 certified.

Eye protection is serious business. Workers in almost every industry are exposed to hazardous conditions able to cause serious eye injury on a daily basis. The proper safety eyewear based on the current ANSI Z87.1-2015 safety standards and combined with 100% compliance to a mandatory eye protection program, helps ensure workers across the globe are protected.

Do you have questions or comments about ANSI Z87.1? Please leave a comment below.