vision protection

Z87.1-2010 Takes a New Approach

Now available from ISEA, the standard has been reorganized to focus on the hazards workers experience rather than the configuration of the product.

You'll find the new ANSI/ISEA Z87.1- 2010, American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices, is easier to understand and use than the 2003 edition, but don't be fooled into thinking it was a snap to finish it.

"Truly I thought it was going to be easier than it actually turned out to be," said Dan Torgersen, chairman of the Z87 Committee on Eye and Face Protection and also vice president IS and Special Projects for Walman Optical Company of Minneapolis. The standard addresses protective spectacles, goggles, faceshields, and welding helmet lenses.

ANSI gave final approval on April 16, sending it back to ISEA, the standard's secretariat, which is expected to finish a final text in late May or early June, Torgersen said.

This edition replaces Z87.1-2003. Torgersen said he had three objectives in mind when the committee began its work this time:

  • Add a coverage requirement
  • Reorganize the standard according to hazards to which wearers are exposed rather than to types of protectors
  • Add a specification and test method for eyewear that protects against dust, mist, and splash hazards
All three were accomplished, he said. The committee also decided after long debate not to remove prescription high-impact spectacles from the standard. What prompted the debate as a paper published by two Illinois College of Optometry faculty members in the February 2007 issue of the journal Optometry titled "Testing Safety Eyewear: How Frame and Lens Design Affect Lens Retention." (volume 78, issue 2, pages 78-87)

The two authors tested high-impact prescription protective spectacles and found 75 percent failed not from frame or lens failure, but because the lens was ejected from the frame, Torgersen said. The 2003 standard did not require testing of the whole product, just its components, so parts of a protector could pass muster but the entire spectacle might fail the test.

Torgersen said the paper caused a lot of discussion within the committee about how this destructive testing might be done in a financially viable way. So many frames, coatings, materials, and sizes are involved that a test protocol could be designed that would cost a whopping $13 million, they concluded.

"I think where we have arrived is by no means the definitive, final thing. It advances the prospect of being able to sell a product that does meet the requirements but doesn't guarantee it," he said. "It's a good start, it's a good first step."

Some committee members weren't happy with the outcome and voted against the standard in committee. Some said the standard should not specify a prescription high-impact spectacle at all because there's no way to be certain it would protect as marked, but to have removed it would be a restraint of trade, Torgersen said.

Coverage Area

"I wanted to put in a coverage requirement, because there was no explicit coverage requirement: how much of the eye does a spectacle cover? If you look at the 2003 standard, there is nothing that says how big of an area," Torgersen said. A Z87 Committee member made a pair of spectacles to meet the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2003 standard as far as coverage area of the eye socket, he said, to demonstrate how small the protected area is.

NIOSH has representatives on the committee who provided a completed NIOSH assessment of the softtissue of the eye socket, measuring the dimensions of juveniles, adults, different head forms, and head forms from CSA (Canadian) and EN (European) standards. The coverage requirement added in the 2010 edition is taken from the CSA Z94.3 standard.

"It is a duplicate of CSA's, which is a good thing because, being neighbors, companies that produce protectors may sell across borders," he said. "Unless there was a good reason to have some of these specifications different between Canada and the U.S., which would be some kind of barrier to trade, it would make a lot of sense to have the same specification. And that's exactly where we arrived."

Organization

The 2003 standard and previous versions had not been very user friendly because they were organized by product — i.e., a faceshield section, a spectacle section, etc., Torgersen said.

"Most people, after they've done the OSHA-recommended hazard assessment, they've identified a hazard: It's a radiation hazard, a splash hazard, a dust hazard, impact hazard, whatever," he explained. "They find what the requirements are and then pick the protector based on that hazard, not the other way around. So the second objective was to reorganize the standard on the basis of hazard."

Thus, the 2010 edition has separate sections setting general requirements; impact protector requirements; optical radiation protector requirements; and droplet and and splash, dust, and fine dust protector requirements. (The standard does not cover certain hazards, including bloodborne pathogens, X-rays, and lasers.)

Dust, Mist, and Splash Protection

No marking changes from the 2003 edition are required by the 2010 edition, but it does contain a marking addition: a marking for splash, mist, or dust protectors. This was added because the standard now contains a specification and test method for these that come from the EN (European) standards, which have included dust, mist, and splash specifications for years; the 2003 edition and earlier editions identified splash as a hazard but contained no specification or test method by which the user could know a protector offered adequate protection against them.

The 2010 version specifies that a splash or droplet protector will have D3 engraved on the frame. D4 will designate a dust protector, D5 a fine dust protector.

The Standard's Evolution

Each revision of the standard has been intended to make it easier for users to select protective eyewear for a specific task, and in that sense, doesn't the latest edition bring the standard closer to the optimal document to achieve that goal?

"I think we're trying to make it easier for the user to use, and we're trying to advance the capability of the protector to meet the specification of what is enough," Torgersen answered when asked the question. "You always have to remember, these are minimum standards that provide a level of protection. Is it the optimum level of protection for every type of hazard? Absolutely not. The people that use this or the people that recommend this type of protector in their PPE assessment need to have cognizance that the hazard in every task is not going to be met by every protector."

The 2010 edition includes both a one-page, 11-by-17-inch Selection Chart, designated Annex I, that is suitable for posting in a workplace and an Annex J, Hazard Assessment and Protector Selection. ISEA is selling copies of the standard for $57, with discounts on bulk orders. Contact Cristine Fargo, ISEA director of member and technical services, at cfargo@safetyequipment.org to order.

This article originally appeared in the June 2010 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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