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ANSI approves changes to eye and face protection standard

Although it has taken several years, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved the new "Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices" standard--ANSI Z87.1-2003.

There are several changes and minor alterations to the old standard. ANSI Z87.1-2003 addresses general requirements, descriptions and types, testing, marking, selection, care and use of personal eye and face protectors. It includes a new section on warning labels. The new standard also addresses respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The changes mean manufacturers will need to retest or develop new protectors, employers will have to reassess job tasks and employee needs, and employees will have to pay closer attention to what type of eye protection is needed.


Section 2--Scope, Purpose, Application, Exceptions and Interpretations--has been expanded. It emphasizes the type of hazards that the protectors will address, while continuing to except specialized areas of radiation protection, sports and bloodborne pathogens. It is important to note that different categories of protectors are tested at different levels of impact resistance. Users are cautioned in selecting eyewear where other standards may apply or where no definitive performance standards exist.

If marked "Z87" or represented in any way as being in compliance with this standard, the entire device must meet all the requirements of the standard. To ensure compliance, users are cautioned to use extreme care when selecting replacement components.


All markings must be permanent, legible and placed so that interference with the wearer's vision is minimal. For products with removable lenses, all spectacle frames (front, both temples and sideshields), goggle bodies or housings, faceshield headgear and welding helmet components must be marked with the manufacturer's mark or logo and "Z87".

If the spectacle frames are intended for prescription lenses, the front and both temples must be marked with the manufacturer's mark or logo, "Z87-2" and for size, according to Z80.5-1997.

Products with non removable lenses require only one marking. For spectacles, the manufacturer's identifying mark or logo, the Z87 (basic impact level) or Z87+ (high impact level) mark and a shade number (if applicable) may be placed on the frame or temple. For goggles, faceshields or welding helmets, the markings may be applied to any component, including the lens.

A summary of required product marks and marking locations has been included in a new annex, Annex G.


Eye protectors are now classified as either basic or high-impact. This classification is based on performance. They are tested as complete products, just like they are offered to the user. No distinction is made between removable and nonremovable lenses.


There is no minimum thickness requirement for high-impact plano spectacles that are tested as complete products. Basic impact spectacle lenses must be at least 3mm thick. High-impact lenses installed in prescription frames must be at least 2mm thick.


All markings must be permanent, legible and placed so that vision interference is minimal.

Basic impact removable lenses must bear the manufacturer's mark or logo. High-impact removable lenses require the manufacturer's mark or logo and a "+". If applicable, the shade number filter lens, special purpose lens and photochromic lens markings must be present. Spectacles with nonremovable lenses must be marked with the manufacturer's mark or logo, "Z87", a "+" if the lenses meet the high-impact testing requirements and (if applicable) a shade number, special purpose lens and photochromic mark. This marking may be placed on the front or on one of the temples.

A summary of required product marks and marking locations has been included the new Annex G.


Full-facepiece and loose-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators are now covered. These devices contain lenses or windows and are subject to the optical, impact resistance and marking requirements of ANSI Z87.1-2003.


A highly visible, removable label or tag must be affixed to any protector that does not meet the high-impact requirements of ANSI Z87.1-2003. The label or tag must contain an appropriate warning indicating that the lens meets basic impact requirements only and that it should not be relied upon for protection from high-impact exposures. The label or tag must also state that it is to be removed by the user only.