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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements

According to Prevent Blindness America, eye injuries in the workplace are very common. Thousands of eye accidents happen each day and one in 10 injuries requires one or more missed workdays.

It is estimated that using the correct eye protection could lessen the severity or even prevent 90% of eye injuries.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements

General personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements are addressed in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.132 – Occupational Safety and Health Standards.

"Protective equipment including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers shall be provided, used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact." (29 CFR 1910.132(a))

Eye and face protection requirements are outlined in 29 CFR 1910.133:

  • Employers must ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.
  • Employers must ensure that each affected employee uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects. Detachable side protectors (e.g. clip-on or slide-on sideshields) meeting the pertinent requirements of this section are acceptable.
  • Employers must ensure that each affected employee who wears prescription lenses while engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.
  • Employers must ensure that each affected employee uses equipment with filter lenses that have a shade number appropriate for the work being performed for protection from injurious light radiation. (CFR) 1910.132, as determined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), lists general PPE requirements.

Criteria for Protective Eye & Face Devices

On Sept. 9, 2009 OSHA issued a Final Rule concerning 29 CFR (Part 1910 and others) that revised the personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements for eye and face protective devices, head protection and foot protection. The Final Rule incorporated the latest versions of national consensus and industry standards. Additionally, OSHA also announced its use of "direct final rule" to ensure that when standards change, the law is automatically updated.

Therefore, employers must comply with this Final Rule by using and providing for employees eyewear that are constructed in accordance with any of the last three American National Standards Institute (ANSI) national consensus standards or their proven equivalent:

  • ANSI Z87.1-1989 (R-1998), American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection
  • ANSI Z87.1-2003, American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices
  • ANSI Z87.1-2010, American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices

NOTE: Even though "direct final rule" applies, the process to actually incorporate ANSI Z87.1-2010 into the federal law may take some time.

History of ANSI Z87.1

The first "standard" for head and eye protection dates back to 1922 with the first edition of the Z2 standard by the War and Navy Department and the National Bureau of Standards.

In 1968, the eye and face protection standard was published with the Z87 designation, Z87.1-1968. Since then Z87.1 has been revised four times – 1979, 1989, 2003 and 2010.

The purpose of this standard has remained the same – to provide minimum requirements for eye and face protective devices including selection, use and maintenance of the devices.

ANSI Z87.1 Key Changes

The 2003 editions and its predecessors are organized by the type of device. Each type of device has a "chapter" in the standard that describes the device, the required testing and optical properties and also establishes product marking PPE requirements.

The 2010 standard focuses on the hazards and is organized by the nature of the hazard – impact, optical radiation, droplet and splash, dust and fine dust and mist. This focus encourages users to evaluate the specific hazards that they are exposed to and to select appropriate protection based on that evaluation. Because of this change, required product markings have changed. Users will have to match the hazard that they need protection from with the marking on the device.

The 2003 versions and predecessors had no defined minimum coverage requirement. The 2010 version has a minimum frontal requirement and for impact rated devices, a lateral coverage requirement:

  • The frame front encircling one lens and lens must cover in plane view an area of not less than 40-millimeters (1.57-inches) in width and 33-millimeters (1.30 inches) in height (elliptical) in front of each eye.
  • Frames designed for small head sizes must cover in plane view an area of not less than 34-millimeters (1.34-inches) in width and 28-milliliters (1.10-inches) in height.
  • Impact rated protectors must provide continuous lateral coverage from the vertical plane of the lenses tangential to a point not less than 10-millimeters (0.394-inch) posterior to the corneal plane and not less than 10-millimeters (0.394-inch) in height [or 8-millimeters (0.315-inch) for small head sizes] above and not less than 10-millimeters (0.394-inch) in height [or 8-millimeters (0.315-inch) for small head sizes] below the horizontal plane.

The 2003 versions and its predecessors had no defined performance criteria for splash/droplet, dust or fine dust. The 2010 revision has specific performance and marking requirements for devices claiming to provide protection from splash/droplet, dust or fine dust hazards.

The 2010 revision eliminates the previous flammability test and replaces it with an ignition test which uses a hot steel rod to determine if the protector will ignite.

The 2003 versions and its predecessors use the "Alderson" head form for product testing. The 2010 revision adopts the European small and medium head form size for testing.

The 2010 version section on selection, use and maintenance has been revised to show recommended protectors for various types of work activities that can expose workers to impact, heat, chemical, dust or optical radiation hazards.

This newer version also addresses aftermarket components. All original equipment manufacturers and non-original equipment manufacturers aftermarket components not sold with the original device must be tested and assembled with the original complete device in the as-worn condition. For aftermarket side shields, the side shields must be tested on representative frames for which the product is specified to fit. Documentation listing all devices that the component or accessory has been tested and is approved for must be made available by the manufacturer. The entity claiming compliance of the component is responsible for testing the assembled device.

ANSI Z87.1 Markings

ANSI Z87.1-1989: Each lens must be distinctly marked with the manufacturer’s monogram. In addition, if applicable the lens must be marked with the appropriate shade and special purpose designation. All major spectacle components (front with bridge area, lens or lenses, temples and sideshields) except the lens or lenses, and all major goggle components must have a trademark identifying the manufacturer and must be marked "Z87" to indicate compliance with the standard.

ANSI Z87.1-2003: Two levels of protection are described – basic and high impact. Removable lenses must be marked with the manufacturer's monogram and basic impact lenses require no additional mark, but high impact lenses require a "+". Non-removable lenses must be marked with the manufacturer’s monogram and basic impact lenses must be marked "Z87" and high impact lenses must be marked "Z87+". If applicable the lenses must be marked with the appropriate shade and special purpose designation. Spectacles front, at least one temple and removable sideshields and goggles frame and lens housing or carrier must be marked with the manufacturer's monogram and "Z87 or Z87+". Non-removable lens products require only one marking – for spectacles the marking may be placed on the frame or temples and for goggles the marking may be applied to any component including the lens.

ANSI Z87.1-2010: Products are either non-impact or impact protectors. In addition to the manufacturer's monogram, Z87 marking and impact marking, manufacturers must add lens type (welding, UV filter, visible light filter, IR filter, variable tint and special purpose) and use (protection against splash droplet, dust and fine dust) markings when claims of impact rating, specific lens type and/or use are made.


Type of Mark




Impact Rated Plano



Impact Rated Prescription


Non Impact






Lens Type








W and Shade Number (Shades range from 1.3 to 14 – the higher the number the darker the lens)





UV Filter

U and Scale Number (Scale ranges from 2 to 6 – the higher the number the highest protection from far and near UV)





Visible Light Filter

L and Scale Number (Scale ranges from 1.3 to 10 – lower numbers providing greater light transmittance)





IR Filter

R and Scale Number (Scale ranges from 1.3 to 10)





Variable Tint






Special Purpose









Fine Dust




Complete device – A product with all its components in their configuration of intended use, subjected to testing for determination of compliance with the standard.

Component – A functional part of a complete device.

Filter lens – A lens that attenuates specific wavelengths of ultraviolet, visible and/or infrared radiation

Frame – A structure, which holds the lens or lenses on the wearer.

Front – That part of a spectacle or goggle frame that is intended to contain the lens or lenses.

Goggle – A protector intended to fit the face surrounding the eyes in order to shield the eyes from certain hazards, depending upon the hazard type.

Lens – The transparent part of a protector through which the wearer sees.

Lens housing or carrier – That part of a goggle that mechanically houses a lens.

Non-Removable lens – A lens and holder that are homogeneous and continuous or a lens that cannot be removed from the frame/front without damage to the device.

Plano lens – A lens that does not incorporate a corrective prescription.

Protector – A complete device meeting, at a minimum the General Requirements of ANSI Z87.1.

Removable lenses – Prescription or plano lenses fabricated to fit a single spectacle frame.

Replaceable lenses – Interchangeable lens/fronts designed for spectacle or goggle devices that are directly mounted to the frame or shell of the device.

Sideshield – A permanent or detachable part of a spectacle that provides side impact resistance and that may be an original or aftermarket component.

Spectacle – A protector intended to shield the wearer’s eyes from certain hazards, depending on the type of hazard.

Temple – That part of a spectacle frame commonly attached to the front and generally extending behind the ear of the wearer.

Ultraviolet radiation (UV) – Electromagnetic energy with wavelengths from 200 to 380 nanometers.

Commonly Asked Questions



When will products conforming with ANSI Z87.1-2010 be available?



There will be a time lag before protective eyewear and the packaging with the new markings will be available. At present, there is NO "deadline" to mark, sell, or use products with these new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements. Manufacturers are planning to manufacture, test and mark their protective devices in compliance with ANSI Z87.1-2010 and compliant products will be phased in as current inventory is depleted.





What should the lenses of my protective eyewear be made of?



Most lenses are made from polycarbonate. This lightweight plastic absorbs 99% of UV light, can be purchased in welding shades and is highly impact-resistant.





I need safety glasses for work, but I already wear prescription eyewear. What are my options?



Workers who wear prescription lenses must wear a pair of safety glasses that incorporate the prescription in its design, or wear safety glasses that can be worn over prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of either.

OTG safety glasses can be worn over prescription lenses. Safety reading glasses (with diopters incorporated into the lens design) are also available.

Eyewear frames and prescription insert holders are available through Grainger for your convenience.