Ever wondered what all those tiny, barely visible letters mean you see inscribed on the lens and arms of your safety glasses? If so, you’ve come to the right place. If not, that’s okay too. Unless you’ve stared blankly at your safety glasses during a break at work, you probably haven’t had much reason to consider (or celebrate) every minute detail of your eye protection.
The inscriptions are more than just manufacturer identification numbers or inspection markers. The letters and numbers on protective eyewear tell us the safety certifications eyewear has and any other special protective filters or features.
Most commonly, you’ll see ANSI Z87.1, Z87.1, or Z87.1+ on the arms of your protective eyewear. This is the ANSI Z78.1 safety eyewear certification. At Stoggles, our entire collection of safety eyewear is ANSI Z87.1-2020 certified. We’ll explain what that means and why it’s crucial.
What Is the ANSI, and Why Are We Literally Obsessed With Them?
Unless you’ve been part of a safety committee at your job, you might not be familiar with ANSI. The American National Standards Institute is a non-government group that develops a uniform set of national standards to be used throughout different industries in the United States.
For safety eyewear, ANSI develops the testing standards to ensure they are protective and fitting for specific eye hazards.
Adherence to ANSI standards is voluntary, which makes ANSI a neutral arbiter in overseeing and approving practices and procedures in the workplace. In other words, ANSI doesn’t enforce the standards they develop.
- ANSI develops a universal code of standards for practices, procedures, testing, and equipment to be used in the workforce and other industries.
- ANSI does not enforce the implementation of these practices and procedures. They only develop and test them.
Developing a set of standards for the numerous facets of the workforce is an intense and intricate job. So, ANSI works with other associations because we all know that teamwork makes the dream work.
Who Is ISEA?
The International Safety Equipment Association is an association of safety equipment manufacturers, developers, and companies who provide input, strategy, testing, and dialogue support to ANSI to help ensure safety equipment (like safety eyewear) is properly tested and up to date with the latest available technologies.
ISEA also works with Congress to help develop laws to help protect workers and ensure the workplace is safe and accessible for everyone.
- ISEA is made up of many different companies that have a vested interest in safety equipment.
- ISEA helps ensure ANSI knows what is available in terms of safety equipment, and how it should be tested.
Just like ANSI, ISEA does not enforce any of the standards or testing they help develop. That’s the job of the federal government.
Who Is OSHA?
The Department of Labor created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1970. Its mission is to ensure safe work environments are created and maintained. To do this, OSHA develops safety rules and regulations, works with employers to educate and implement those regulations, and routinely monitors and inspects the workplace to ensure they are being adhered to.
OSHA works directly with ANSI, which develops the protection standards to ensure the workplace is safe and the workforce is protected. OSHA requires employers to identify eye hazards in the workplace and inform their employees of the correct type of eyewear needed, which is ANSI Z87.1 certified eyewear.
- OSHA is a government agency that enforces ANSI standards in the workplace.
- OSHA educates employers and employees on safety procedures and ensures safety equipment is in working order and being used effectively.
Can Any Other Agency Regulate Safety Eyewear?
Aside from ANSI, only the military regulates safety eyewear. The military uses its own set of testing and standards to rate certain eyewear as “ballistic rated.” Ballistic-rated eyewear has passed a test that involves firing a .15 caliber round at 640 fps to eyewear attached to a headform.
Ballistic-rated eyewear isn’t marked or manufactured by the military, but they keep a list of approved safety glasses and goggles that are on the “APEL,” or authorized protective eyewear list.
What Hazards Does ANSI Test Against?
ANSI recognizes potential eye hazards in several different categories and adjusts testing and requirements for ANSI-certified protective eyewear based on those potential risks.
Blunt trauma to the eye can damage the orbital socket and the structures of the eye itself. As such, ANSI implements tests that ensure safety eyewear holds up against the assessed risk you are exposed to in your work environment.
Whether your job involves being in the sun or around another source of UV light, such as a welding arc, your eyes need protection from the radiation. UV light ages and damages every structure in your eye, placing you at higher risk of developing eye illnesses like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Additionally, UV light can burn your cornea and cause irritation that can take you out of work, causing a loss in productivity and possibly a loss of income. Radiation does not give us cool superpowers, but hopefully, science will get on that at some point soon.
Liquid Splashes and Spills
We all love to spill the tea now and then — but not literally and definitely not in our eyes.
Splashes, spills, and splatters are all eye hazards when working with liquids or bodily fluids. Even simple household cleaning can become an eye hazard if you’re working with cleaning chemicals that can harm your eye.
Top and side shields help prevent splashes and splatters from entering your field of vision and keep your eye safe from potentially hazardous fluids and chemical splashes.
While sitting in the splash zone at the live-action performance of Waterworld at Universal Studios is fun, getting splashed with your patient’s suspicious bodily fluids? Yeah, not so much.
Dust is one of the most invasive eye hazards to contend with. Any job that involves sawing, grinding, or other activities that produce dust present a risk to your eye health. ANSI determines how high the risk of eye injury is by the level of dust produced on a job and the type of dust produced.
“D4” signifies dust protection, and “D5” is the marking that lets you know you’re protected from fine dust. Safety eyeglasses put a whole new spin on “dust buster,” and we are here for it.
Small particles are similar to dust but are more destructive than dust because they could also cause striking or scraping to the eye. Small particles can be present in different work environments, like construction or healthcare-related jobs.
What Kinds of Certifications Are Available From ANSI?
There are numerous different ANSI certifications a pair of safety glasses can have, but the most common are ANSI Z87.1 or ANSI Z87.1+. ANSI Z87.1 is the subsection of ANSI literature that specifically deals with protective eyewear testing and safety standards.
ANSI routinely updates the safety standards to reflect new technology, different eye-specific hazards, or other critical safety info.
To paraphrase the Spice Girls, “If you wanna be my eyewear, you gotta pass these tests…”
The basic impact resistance that ANSI tests for can earn safety glasses the standard ANSI Z87.1 certification. The basic test is called the Drop Ball Impact Test. This test involves dropping a 68g steel ball from a height of approximately 50 inches. This low-impact is similar to being hit with a golf ball tossed at your eye from a few feet away (ouch).
To pass this test, glasses cannot shatter or break under the pressure of the impact.
The remaining three tests involve higher levels of speed and impact. To pass these tests, the lenses and frames of the glasses can’t break, shatter, or fragment. Testing is performed by placing safety eyewear on a headform.
- High Mass Impact Test. For this test, a 500 g pointed projectile object is dropped directly on the lens of the eyewear from a height of 50 inches. The force is similar to being hit in the eye with a swinging object like a bat or a hammer.
- High-Velocity Impact Test. During this test, a 6.35 mm steel ball is fired at the lenses of the safety eyewear at a speed of 100 mph. This is similar to being shot with a BB gun or paintball.
- Penetration test. The penetration test uses a sharp needle-like object that weighs 1.56 ounces. The object is dropped onto the lenses at the height of 50 inches. To pass the test, the object can’t penetrate the glasses.
These are the most significant ANSI Z87.1 certifications. ANSI recently updated its regulations, so glasses that are ANSI Z87.1-2020 certified are the most current and up-to-date safety eyewear available.
Other ANSI Certifications
ANSI uses special letters and markings on the frames and arms of glasses to help identify the safety features of the eyewear.
Here are what the markings are and what they mean:
- Z87. Basic impact rating
- Z87+ high-velocity impact rating
- Z87.2 this will be imprinted on the lenses and frame and indicates the lenses are prescription safety glasses
- D3 splash and droplet protection
- U this will be followed by a number and shows the level of UV protection safety glasses have
- W this will be followed by a number and gives the level of welding protection
- R followed by a number, this indicates the level of infrared protection
- L followed by a number shows the amount of visible light filtered by the eyewear
- S special lens tint
- H this is a smaller frame size designed for smaller heads
- X fog-resistant eyewear
Your eyewear may have some or none of these markings, depending on where you purchased your eyewear, and what you use it for. The most important markings will be those indicating the impact resistance, which are Z87.1 and Z87.1+.
Why Everyone Should Wear PPE
Should you really care about any of these ANSI certifications? If you’re only using your eyewear around the house or while you do yard work, you may not think it’s necessary to have these certifications. The statistics on eye injuries say otherwise.
Let’s break down some cold, hard facts:
Work-Related Eye Injuries
It’s no surprise that at high-risk jobs, eye injuries happen. There are more than 2,000 eye injuries that happen on the job each day. While construction work is the highest risk job for eye injuries, there are many other professions that carry a high risk of eye-related injury.
Eye Injuries at Home
Nearly half of the 2.5 million eye injuries that happen each year occur at home. Whether you are cleaning, doing yard work, or tackling a home repair project, wear certified, protective eyewear to keep your vision safe.
Just think about the injuries the Sticky Bandits could have avoided in the Home Alone franchise if they had been wearing eye protection? Suddenly Kevin McCallister isn’t so scary anymore.
Fun-Ruining Eye Injuries
Sports, pastimes, and hobbies account for almost 30,000 eye injuries treated in emergency rooms each year. Nothing is worse than being taken out of your favorite game, especially if it's an eye-related injury.
Keeping your eyes safe is super-duper important because your eyes don’t heal like other structures and systems in your body. We can’t all be Wolverine, sadly.
Why Eye Health Matters
Your eyes are incredibly complex structures. The cells responsible for your actual vision are located in the retina, in the back of the eye. Retinal cells do not regenerate. That means when they are damaged, vision loss may not be repairable.
Keeping your eyes safe is as simple as ensuring you’re wearing the right eye protection for the job. Investing in eyewear that is ANSI Z87.1-2020 is the easiest way to keep your eyes safe at work or at home.
The Case for Stoggles
Searching for ANSI Z87.1-2020 certified eyewear can be a daunting task, but we make it easy. Our eyewear is all ANSI Z87.1-2020 certified, so you can be certain your eyes are protected with the highest level of impact resistance needed.
In addition, we throw in a few extra upgrades like:
- Anti-fog lenses. Eyewear with lenses that fog up are dangerous, requiring removal for wiping that leaves your eyes vulnerable and takes you off task. Stoggles have anti-fog lenses so that you don’t have to worry about your glasses fogging, no matter the temperature or climate. Fog is a great addition to haunted houses and rock concerts, but that’s where we draw the line.
- Blue light blocking technology. Blue light emitted from devices, smartphones, and televisions can reach the retina. Blue light blocking lenses filter out this light, keeping your circadian rhythm on track.
- Natural UV protection. Our lenses are made from lightweight polycarbonate material that is naturally UV blocking.
- Serious Style. Stoggles aren’t safety glasses; they’re hybrid protective eyewear. We focus as much on the aesthetic aspect of our frames as much as their safety. Available in basically a million colors and four rocking lens shapes (The Square, Round, Rectangle, and Cat Eye), it’s possible to customize your eyewear to suit your own unique style.
We know safety eyewear is only safe if it is actually being worn. Eyewear that isn’t comfortable or stylish usually ends up anywhere but your face.
PPE on the Runway
The ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification lets you know your eyewear has passed the test to keep your eyes safe from numerous different types of eye hazards. Look for the ANSI seal on your glasses, even if you’re just using your safety eyewear at home.
For quality that you can trust and style that is simply unmatched, trust Stoggles, the new (stylish) standard in ANSI-certified personal protective eyewear. We bring high fashion to hush risk so that nothing slows you down.
Home | American National Standards Institute
About ISEA | International Safety Equipment Association
About OSHA | Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Eye Safety at Home: Preventing Eye Injuries | American Academy of Ophthalmology
Sports Eye Safety | American Academy of Ophthalmology