Everything You Need to Know About ANSI Z87.1 Certified Safety Glasses

everything you need to know about ansi z87.1 certified safety glasses

Across diverse workplace environments, our eyesight faces constant threats from flying debris, chemicals, and harmful radiation. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) organization addresses these threats with the ANSI Z87.1 standard by setting the benchmark for safety PPE eyewear, ensuring its effectiveness in protecting wearers from a wide range of hazards.

In this article, we will discuss the specific requirements and testing procedures that define ANSI Z87.1 certified safety glasses. Additionally, this article will guide readers in selecting the right safety eyewear by explaining product markings, material choices, and fit considerations.

What is ANSI Z87.1?

ANSI Z87.1 is a standard that defines the requirements for safety PPE eyewear to protect against hazards such as impact, radiation, and chemical splashes in various work environments. The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) works alongside ANSI to develop these standards. The ISEA is an association for safety equipment and technologies, helping to ensure that products meet rigorous standards for protection and performance.

  • Scope (Section 1.1): Defines the requirements for design, construction, testing, selection, use, and maintenance of eye and face protection for occupational and educational settings.
  • Performance Specifications (Sections 5 through 8): Outlines the specific performance requirements for impact resistance, penetration resistance, optical clarity, and other factors based on the intended use.
  • Marking (Section 10): Specifies the markings required on ANSI Z87.1 safety glasses to indicate compliance with the standard and specific features like impact rating and UV protection.
  • User Information (Section 11): Provides guidance on selecting appropriate eye protection, proper fitting, and care and maintenance.

The ANSI Z87.1 standard is regularly updated to address advancements in materials and manufacturing, keep pace with evolving workplace hazards, incorporate better testing methods, and ensure clear communication of safety features. Important updates in the latest version, ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020, include:

  • Relaxed Optics Standards: Added criteria and markings for protectors with relaxed optics, catering to specific roles like first responders, firefighters, or military personnel who may not require strict optical standards.
  • Anti-Fog Lens Criteria: Introduced testing, performance, and marking criteria for anti-fog lens properties to address safety issues related to fogging.
  • Transmittance Adjustments: Adjusted transmittance allowances to reflect current needs and technologies.
  • Expanded Welding Shades: Expanded the range of welding filter shades to accommodate various welding activities.
  • Clarification on Testing: Provided clarifications to ensure consistent testing of dark-state tolerances for automatic darkening welding filters and to define the minimum coverage area for specified headforms.


What’s the Difference Between ANSI Z87 and ANSI Z87+?

The difference between Z87 and Z87+ markings on safety PPE eyewear relates to the level of impact protection they provide, a crucial consideration in hazardous work environments. Eyewear marked with "Z87" meets the basic impact protection standards as outlined by the ANSI Z87.1 regulation, designed to shield against impacts from larger objects at slower speeds, such as falling tools or flying debris. This makes them suitable for general safety in areas where the risk of high-speed or severe impacts is relatively low.

On the other hand, the "Z87+" marking signifies a higher level of impact protection, adhering to more stringent testing criteria than the Z87 designation. Safety PPE glasses or goggles with this marking are capable of withstanding high-speed and high-impact forces, typical of smaller, faster-moving objects that could result from tasks like grinding, machining, or working with hazardous materials in environments with explosive risks. The Z87+ standard is essential for individuals working in high-risk areas, such as construction sites, industrial settings, or laboratories where the potential for high-velocity impacts poses a greater threat to eye safety.


What Hazards Does ANSI Z87.1 Test Against?

worker wearing safety glasses in woodworking

Safety PPE glasses and goggles with ANSI Z87.1 safety certifications undergo rigorous testing to ensure their effectiveness. Here are some key tests:

Impact Resistance

This is one of the primary tests, where eyewear is subjected to impacts from small objects at high speeds to simulate flying debris, tools, or materials or particles encountered in industrial, construction, or laboratory settings. The goal is to ensure that the lenses and frames can withstand these forces without breaking or dislodging. Polycarbonate lenses are known as impact-resistant lenses, thanks to their thinner and lightweight material.

Eyewear designated as Z87+ undergoes additional, more stringent testing to ensure higher levels of protection. Here are the three key tests for ANSI z87+ certification:

  1. High Mass Impact Test: This test assesses the durability of PPE glasses by dropping a 500-gram weight from a height of 50 inches onto the lenses. It simulates the scenario of a heavy object, like a tool, accidentally falling onto the eyewear. To pass, the glasses must not crack, shatter, or have the lenses dislodge.
  2. High-Velocity Impact Test: In this test, a ¼ inch steel ball is shot at speeds of 102mph (for Safety Glasses) and 170mph (for Safety Goggles) to evaluate the eyewear's protection against fast-moving particles. The test mimics conditions where workers might face flying fragments, metal chips, or other high-speed projectiles. Successful eyewear must keep the lens intact and in place..
  3. Penetration Test (Lenses Only): Focusing on the lens's ability to withstand sharp object penetration, this test involves dropping a needle with a minimum total weight of 44.2g from a height of at least inches. The test aims to verify the lens's resistance to piercing by sharp, pointed objects, which are hazards in environments where splinters, metal shards, or glass fragments are present.

Dust and Fine Particle Protection

Safety eyewear is tested to ensure a secure fit and adequate seal to prevent particles from entering around the frame and reaching the eyes. This involves placing the safety PPE eyewear in a dust-filled environment to ensure no particles infiltrate the sealed areas around the eyes. The safety eyeglass must maintain a clear vision field and prevent dust entry.

Radiation Protection

For workplaces with exposure to ultraviolet (UV), infrared (IR), or other types of harmful radiation, ANSI Z87.1 safety certifications include tests to assess the eyewear’s ability to filter out these harmful rays and protect the eyes from radiation damage. The test uses sources of UV, IR, and visible light to check the eyewear’s lens ability to filter or block harmful radiation.

Chemical Splash Resistance

The test exposes the safety eyewear to splashes of different chemicals to verify that the lenses and frames do not degrade. Safety eyewear must also protect against chemical splashes, ensuring that lenses and frames can resist damage from chemicals and prevent harmful substances from reaching the eyes.


Advantages of ANSI Z87.1 Certified Safety Glasses

  • Impact Protection: ANSI Z87.1 safety eyeglasses significantly reduce the risk of eye injuries by providing robust defense against impacts from tools, debris, and other hazards, ensuring worker safety in high-risk environments.
  • Diverse Hazard Defense: Beyond impact protection, ANSI Z87.1 certified glasses offer safeguards against UV radiation, chemical splashes, and dust. These eyewear allow workers to safely navigate different hazardous situations without changing their personal protective equipment.
  • Improved Durability and Longevity: Constructed with robust materials, these ANSI certified glasses are more resilient and last longer. This durability means that the glasses are less likely to be damaged or need replacement frequently, providing long-term cost savings and ensuring consistent protection for the wearer.
  • Comfort and Wearability: ANSI Z87.1 safety eyeglasses have features like padded nose bridges, adjustable straps, and contoured frames that contribute to a comfortable fit, reducing the likelihood of discomfort or distraction. With this, workers are more likely to keep them on throughout the day, ensuring continuous protection against hazardous materials in the workplace.


Safety Glasses Product Markings Explained

When selecting safety glasses, it's essential to understand the various markings on them. These markings indicate the type of protection the glasses provide. Here’s a detailed table summarizing the general symbols and their meanings as defined by the ISEA:

Impact vs. Non-Impact Protection

Marking Protectors Limitations
Z87 (Basic Impact) • Spectacles with side protection
• Goggles with direct or indirect ventilation
• Faceshield worn over spectacles or goggles
• Welding helmet worn over spectacles or
• Loose-fitting respirator worn over spectacles
or goggles
• Full-facepiece respirators
Caution should be exercised in the use of
metal frame protective devices in electrical
hazard areas. Metal frame protective devices
could potentially cause electrical shock and
electrical burn through contact with, or
thermal burns from exposure to the hazards
of electrical energy, which include radiation
from accidental arcs.

To provide adequate protection, ensure
goggles fit tightly to the face.

Atmospheric conditions and restricted
ventilation of a protector can cause lenses to
fog. Frequent cleaning may be required.
Z87+ (High Impact)
Z87-2+ (High Impact Prescription Spectacle)


Splash and Dust Protection

Marking Protectors Limitations
D3 (Splash Protection) • Goggles with indirect ventilation (eyecup or cover type)
• Faceshield worn over goggles
• Loose-fitting respirator worn over spectacles or goggles
• Full-facepiece respirator
Atmospheric conditions and the restricted
ventilation of a protector can cause lenses to
fog. Frequent cleaning may be required.

To provide adequate protection, ensure
goggles fit tightly to the face.
D4 (Dust Protection) • Goggles with direct or indirect ventilation (eyecup or cover type)
• Full-facepiece respirator
D5 (Fine Dust Protection) • Goggles with indirect ventilation or no ventilation
• Full-facepiece respirator
To provide adequate protection, ensure
goggles fit tightly to the face.


Optical Radiation Protection

Marking Protectors Limitations
U scale number (UV Protection) • Spectacles with side protection
• Goggles with direct or indirect ventilation
• Faceshield worn over spectacles or goggles
• Welding helmet worn over spectacles or goggles
• Loose-fitting respirator worn over spectacles or goggles
• Full-facepiece respirators
For proper fit of the protector; there shall be no
penetration of direct ultraviolet light in all nonlens areas

Side shields shall have filtering capability
equal to or greater than the front lenses.
L scale number (Visible Light Filter)
R scale number (Infrared Filter)
W and scale number (Welding Filter) • Welding helmet over spectacles or goggles
• Handshield over spectacles or goggles
• Welding Respirator

Protection from optical radiation is directly
related to filter lens density. Select the
darkest shade that allows adequate task

For proper fit of protector; there shall be no penetration of direct visible light in all nonlens areas.

Side shields shall have filtering capability
equal to or greater than the front lenses.

Welding helmets are intended to shield the
eyes and face from optical radiation, heat,
and impact. Welding helmets should not be
used as stand-alone protective devices and
should be worn in conjunction with goggles or Spectacles.

Filter lens shade selection is to be made
based on the welding process, arc current,
electrode size, and/or plate thickness. Use
ANSI Z49.1:2012, Table 1, Guide for Shade
Numbers, to select the proper filter lens
shade for both protection and comfort
(reduction in visible glare).

Note: Filter lenses shall meet the
requirements for shade designations in Table
6 of the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015 standard


Other Considerations When Choosing Safety Glasses

Lens Materials: Materials like polycarbonate lenses and triacetate offer benefits such as high impact resistance, scratch resistance, and UV protection. Choosing the right material depends on the specific hazardous materials present in the workplace.

Lens Coatings: Coatings such as anti-fog and anti-scratch improve visibility and durability. Anti-fog coatings are particularly useful in humid or variable temperature environments, while lightweight anti-scratch coatings extend the life of the glasses under rough conditions.

Proper Fit: Ensuring a good fit is crucial for effective protection and comfort. Properly fitted glasses prevent slippage, minimize gaps, and reduce the risk of injury, making it essential to try on different models to find the best fit for individual face shapes and sizes.


Limitations of Safety Glasses

ANSI Z87.1 certified safety eyeglasses provide substantial protection against impacts, dust, radiation, and chemical splashes, but they do have some limitations. For instance, they might not offer a complete seal around the eyes, which can allow fine particles or harmful substances to enter, especially in highly volatile environments.

Therefore, to complement the protection offered by PPE eyewear, it's essential to have readily accessible and well-maintained eyewash stations in workplaces, especially where chemicals are used or debris is present. These stations are vital for quickly flushing out contaminants from the eyes, thereby preventing the risk of serious injuries. Employers must ensure these safety measures are in place and maintained to safeguard workers effectively.


FAQs on ANSI Z87.1 Safety Glasses

What does ANSI Z87.1 mean in safety glasses?

ANSI Z87.1 is a standard established by the American National Standards Institute that specifies the requirements for eye protection in the workplace. Safety glasses that meet this standard are tested to provide adequate protection against hazards such as impacts, radiation, and chemical splashes.

What does ANSI Z87.1 Certified mean?

When safety glasses are ANSI Z87.1 certified, it means they have been tested and meet the specific criteria set by ANSI for safety PPE eyewear. This certification ensures the glasses can protect the wearer against common workplace hazards as defined in the standard.

Do safety glasses have to be stamped Z87?

Yes, safety glasses that meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard must have "Z87" stamped on them. This mark can be found on either the lens or the frame, indicating that they have passed the necessary tests for impact resistance and other protective qualities.

Which type of PPE requires a Z87 safety rating?

The Z87 safety rating is specifically required for personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects the eyes, such as safety glasses, goggles, and face shields. This rating ensures that the eyewear provides adequate protection against potential hazards found in various industrial, laboratory, or construction settings.

Is ANSI Z87.1 OSHA approved?

Yes, ANSI Z87.1 is recognized and accepted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA often requires that workers in certain job environments use ANSI Z87.1 compliant eyewear to ensure that the level of eye protection is adequate for the safety hazards present in those workplaces.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.