Eyes are one of the most vulnerable organs of the human body, and as an employer you areobligated to keep your workers safe, including their eyes. Providing compliant and effective personal protective equipment (PPE) can dramatically reduce the chance of eye injury and even vision loss. Whether your workplace is a construction site, a laboratory, or a manufacturing warehouse, there are a number of hazards the eye faces. Fortunately, the ANSI z87.1 standard was developed with protecting a worker’s eyes in mind as well as simpler purchasing for the employer.
Types of Hazards
The following are four identified hazards that put the eyes at risks:
- Blunt impact: Impact from either running into an object or a projectile hitting the eye resulting in impact.
- Radiation: There are many common sources of radiation including the sun, and over time can cause severe damage to the eye.
- Splashes and Droplets: The eyes are often exposed to liquid chemicals, and the result of chemicals splashing or getting into the eye can range from mild irritation to even blindness.
- Dust: In many industrial and construction sites, dust blown up from saws, fans, and other machines can impact eye sight and cause eye damage.
As an employer, you will need to perform a hazard assessment, so you can accurately identify the present hazards. Some may be obvious, but some hazards may be industry specific or specific to your individual facility.
What’s the standard about?
The ANSI standard essentially tests eye protection, like goggles and safety glasses, and face protection before they can be sold with the ANSI z87.1 seal of approval. The testing is done at third party testing companies, who will put the eye protection through a series of tests to determine the level of protection. More than just staying compliant with the standard, the process makes it easier for the employer to choose the right pair of safety goggles or glasses for their workers and facility. If the glasses or goggles are designed to protect from a specific hazard, there are symbols used in conjunction with the z87 label including the following:
- + sign after z87.1: The plus sign means the glasses or goggles are rated for a high-velocity impact.
- D3: This indicates the eye protection will protect from splashes or droplets.
- D4/D5: The D4 signifies protection from dust, while D5 protects from fine dust.
- U: Indication the glasses or goggles includes UV protection.
- R: Signifies infrared light protection.
- L: Indicates the eye protection has a visible light filter.
- Z87-2: This is used for lenses that are also prescription lenses.
- W: For eye protection used in welding.
- H: This indicates the safety eyewear is designed for smaller head sizes.
- S: Used for lenses with a special tint.
As an employer it is essential, and required, to provide employees with proper PPE to keep them safe on the job. A large part of this will be to assess the present hazards in the workplace and choose the appropriate types of eye protection to effectively keep your worker’s eyes safe. Be sure to follow the ANSI z87.1 standard to ensure compliancy and that your workers will be properly protected.
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