Your new job requires safety eyewear, and your employer was kind enough to throw a pair your way. Before you slide those babies over your ears, you might be asking yourself: How do I know these are OSHA approved?
Chances are, you actually aren’t asking yourself that question, but you probably should. After all, your eyes are home to some of the only cells in your body that can’t regenerate: your retinal cells. That means if you get an eye injury that affects your vision, it could be irreversible.
Have no fear: the Stoggles team is here! Because we’re in the biz, we understand OSHA standards for safety eyewear. We’ll explain what they are and how to tell if your glasses are certified to keep you safe.
Who Is OSHA?
Who are the people making all the rules about what you should and shouldn’t wear to protect your eyes? It’s a government agency, of course! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created in the 1970s to ensure safety in the workplace.
OSHA works with employers and employees to provide education, resources, and training to make sure work environments are healthy and safe.
Why Does OSHA Care About Your Eyes?
For starters, there are over 2,000 workplace-related eye injuries per day in the United States. That means across the board, we’re not being incredibly careful. Of those injuries, about ⅓ lead to hospital visits, and more than 100 of these require time off from work.
Each year, thousands of workers completely lose their vision due to work-related eye injuries, but here’s the kicker: most of these injuries could have been prevented simply by wearing proper, OSHA-approved safety glasses.
I’m Careful; I Won’t Get Hurt
You will, or at least you might. As we said earlier, retinal cells don’t regenerate. Damage to your eyes is often permanent and it isn’t worth the risk.
Your employer is responsible for assessing the risk in your workplace and determining whether or not you should wear safety glasses. If you need safety glasses, OSHA guidelines tell your boss the standards those glasses need to meet.
What OSHA Says About Safety Eyewear
OSHA is pretty straightforward about their eyewear standards. All safety glasses that are OSHA-approved must be ANSI Z87.1 certified.
We know what you’re thinking, but it’s not a government agency. The American National Standards Institute is a private, not-for-profit company that facilitates the development and implementation of safety standards for numerous industries.
ANSI also works with other agencies worldwide to develop conformity with safety standards in a global setting. In short, OSHA tells ANSI that we need to develop some safety guidelines for protective eyewear in the workplace.
ANSI gets to work researching and testing to determine:
- What levels of protection are needed
- When protection is needed
- How protection should be crafted and tested
- How the final product should be marked to ensure uniform notification of safety
ANSI and OSHA together form the rules that govern your workplace safety.
What Is ANSI Z87.1 Certification?
OSHA requirements that your safety glasses be ANSI Z87.1 certified mean that all safety glasses must meet specific requirements that protect your eyes from:
- Impact from blunt objects
- Spills and splashes from chemicals, bodily fluids, or other harmful substances
- Small particles
ANSI Z87.1 also provides for other safety certifications (like specs for welding, soldering, and dangerous chemical exposure). Obviously, if you work as a welder, you probably don’t need the same kind of protection that a nurse will need. Ergo, not all safety glasses will have every ANSI marking on them, but they will have the certifications for impact resistance and structural integrity.
ANSI Impact Resistance Testing
To make sure your safety glasses are impact-resistant, manufacturers perform two types of ANSI impact resistance tests.
- High Mass Impact Test. During this test, a heavy ball bearing (usually weighing at least 17 ounces) is dropped from a height of at least four feet onto the lens of the safety glasses.
- High Velocity Impact Test. For this test, a steel ball bearing must be launched at the lens of the safety glasses at a speed of 102 mph.
To pass either test, the lens can’t break, shatter, or come apart, and the frames must also remain intact. If a pair of glasses passes both of these tests, they will have earned the ANSI Z887.1+ certification, which means they are completely impact-resistant.
ANSI Coverage Requirements
Depending on the setting, ANSI requirements determine how much of your face surrounding your eyes needs to be protected. For instance, if you work in an environment that causes you to come into contact with harmful vapors, you’ll likely need the protection of safety goggles, which create a seal around your eyes.
Most of the time, you’ll need safety glasses, which provide both side and top shield coverage to protect your eyes in areas where normal glasses leave them vulnerable.
Are My Glasses Approved?
We’ve covered what ANSI Z87.1 certification is and why you need it, but how do you know if those glasses your new boss just tossed your way are actually certified?
Thankfully, ANSI took care of that little nuance by developing a standard of marking that you can look for on your safety glasses to determine whether or not they’re approved and safe…or just some dollar bin cheapies.
Any safety glasses or goggles that are ANSI Z78.1 certified must clearly be marked as such on some part of the lens or frame. The marking will have “Z87.1” or “Z87.1+” depending on which impact testing requirements the glasses have undergone.
Without these markings, it’s unlikely your glasses are OSHA approved, ANSI approved, or safe. While the glasses might offer you some protection, there’s no guarantee, and your eyes are just too important to chance it.
Tell Me More About Safety Glasses
Glad you asked — it’s kind of our thing. Safety glasses aren’t just for work; they’re for home improvement, lawn work, sports that involve impact, and even household cleaning with chemicals.
Because eye safety is so important, Stoggles makes every pair of our safety glasses with standards that go above and beyond the ANSI Z78.1+ certification requirements.
Here’s what we think makes an exceptional pair of safety glasses.
The lenses and frames of your glasses have to protect you from impact, but they also need to remain lightweight so that they’re comfortable. Polycarbonate is a material that is naturally UV blocking, crystal clear, and super lightweight. Problem solved.
UV rays can damage your eyes, cause irritation, and put you at risk of developing macular degeneration. Safety glasses should shield your eyes from UV rays, and Stoggles do just that. Our lenses are crafted from naturally UV blocking polycarbonate, so you get UV protection without a darkened lens.
The last thing you want to deal with when you’re working (or playing) is foggy glasses. Fogging lenses are a twofold problem. They take you off-task or out of the game, and they place your eyes at risk.
When you remove your glasses to wipe them off, your glasses are at risk of injury. Keep your glasses on with fog-resistant lenses, like the ones you’ll find in every pair of Stoggles.
Blue Light Blocking
Blue light is similar to UV light. These high-energy, short-wavelength light waves are capable of penetrating your eye and reaching the retina. Blue light is emitted from the sun as well as mobile devices, tablets, computers, LED light bulbs and television sets, and even fluorescent bulbs.
We aren’t sure the amount of damage blue light can do to your eyes over time, but immediate exposure can cause eye strain and pain and even headaches. Blue light blocking lenses filter out blue light to keep your eyes protected.
It goes without saying, if you want impact resistance and ultimate safety, your glasses should be OSHA approved (read: ANSI Z78.1 certified). Lucky for you, every pair of Stoggles already is.
If your safety glasses aren’t comfortable, you won’t wear them. Part of comfort is knowing your glasses help you retain your sense of style. No one wants to look like their middle school chemistry teacher at their 9-5.
Stoggles reinvents safety glasses by marrying form and fashion. We made PPE that’s both effective and effortlessly on-trend. With different shaped frames and numerous colors to choose from, you can pick a pair for each day of the week.
Stoggles: OSHA Certified, But Make Them Stylish
Want safety goggles that are most definitely OSHA-approved and stylish enough to wear outside the office?
Then you need Stoggles. Whether at work or play, Stoggles keep your eyes protected from becoming one of the 2,000 eye injury statistics per day, all while helping you keep your sweet style.
Personal Protective Equipment | OSHA
ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020: Current Standard for Safety Glasses | ANSI