What Does Z87 Mean on Safety Glasses?

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If you are in the market for a new pair of safety glasses, you are lucky in that there is a long list of features and attributes that you can choose from. On the Rx-Safety website, you can use the available filtering options to find the best safety glasses. When looking for safety glasses, you may consistently come across different types of markings on the glasses. For instance, whether you are shopping in-person or online, you may see a “Z87” marking. This isn’t just for decoration. Instead, Z87 signals that this particular pair of safety glasses have passed stringent safety standards.

It is helpful to understand what it is and what it signifies the Z87 mark. Doing so will help you make the most informed decision when purchasing your next pair of safety glasses. This article will explain what Z87 means.

ANSI and the Z87 Standard

To truly understand what Z87 means, we need to take a step back. Safety glasses are extremely important tools when working or playing in challenging conditions. Whether you are in a hazardous environment failing to protect your eyes can lead to serious eye problems—including blindness.

Our safety glasses, are design to protect your eyes from injury. While there are stylish safety glasses, the priority is always to protect your eyes in the most challenging situations.

Nevertheless, not all safety glasses are made alike. Several decades ago, eyewear professionals discovered that there were inconsistencies in whether safety glasses were truly “safe” or not. To address this problem, they agreed on voluntary standards that would objectively judge the safety of safety glasses. These standards are promulgated by a private, nonprofit organization called the American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”).

The ANSI standards are the most widely respect. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration uses ANSI standards to determine whether employers are complying with OSHA standards in the workplace.

To be clear, there isn’t one universal standard that ANSI determines for safety glasses. There are several different standards that slightly vary in factors like impact resistance.

This is where Z87 comes in. Z87 is one of the standards for ANSI eye protection. It lets you know that your safety glasses have passed a series of stringent tests. Which examine the durability and impact-resistance of your safety glasses. In this discussion, we are technically speaking about the Z87.1 standard.

Model RX-Q300 safety glasses in black RX-Q300-BK
Model RX-Q300 plastic prescription safety glasses in black with removable side shields

It defines occupational and educational eye and faces protection. Since 2003, the Z87.1 standard has been updated twice (the revisions occurred in 2010 and 2015). The revisions focused on product performance and attempted to harmonize these ANSI standards with other international eyewear standards.

The Z87.1 standard has testing criteria for frames and lenses for two levels of performance: basic impact and high impact. Any pair of glasses meeting the Z87.1 standard must undergo intensive testing. Some of the tests include exposure to non-ionizing radiation and chemicals and durability to flammables and corrosion.

While basic impact presents you with a standard level of eye protection. The high impact means that your glasses pass an additional series of tests. In other words, signaling their durability and functionality in stressful conditions. So, if a pair of safety glasses are ANSI Z87.1, it means that the glasses passed a “high mass” test.

In this test, a 500-gram pointed weight is drop from five feet onto the lenses of the safety glasses. The goal is to see whether the lens or glasses will shatter or break when exposed to this external force.

So ultimately, let’s return to the Z87 marking on a pair of safety glasses. The safety glasses Z87 certified, have a “Z87” marking on the inside arm of the glasses. This means that these safety glasses passed the Z87.1 standard.

If you see a plus sign next to Z87, however, which means that your glasses are impact-rated. As discussed above, impact-rated safety glasses must pass an additional series of safety tests. This gives you even more confidence that your safety glasses will protect your eyes in dangerous conditions.

Why This Matters

You may be asking yourself: why does any of this matter? There are several reasons.

First, the ANSI Z87.1 standard can give you the confidence that your pair of safety glasses can undergo massive stress. So you can focus on the work in front of you. Instead of worrying about whether your safety glasses will hold up in challenging conditions.

Prescription Free Form Safety Glasses RX-456-BS in Black/Silver
Plastic prescription wraparound safety glasses in model RX-456 black/silver

Along with this peace of mind, you may come across a situation where your employer demands that your glasses are Z87 certified. If your job requires you to work in environments with flying dust or debris, for instance, OSHA regulations require that your employer supply safety glasses. As described in OSHA regulations, these safety glasses must meet certain ANSI standards, and if they don’t, your employer may be subject to sanctions from OSHA.

Worker Using Angle Grinder in Factory and throwing sparks

OSHA regulations don’t require your employer to purchase new prescription glasses for employees, however. If you wear prescription glasses in your everyday life, your employer must give you goggles “that allow corrective lenses to be placed behind the goggle lenses or that employees can wear over their eyeglasses.”

However, if you want to purchase and wear your own prescription safety glasses, you should be able to do so—provided that they comply with the relevant ANSI standard. In most cases, this is ANSI Z87.1, but you will want to ensure that you are meeting the standard before purchasing your new pair of prescription safety glasses.

You may come across a situation where your employer demands that your glasses are Z87 certified. Attention, in some situations OSHA requires that your employer supply safety glasses. In other words, if your job requires you to work in environments with flying dust or debris. Please, see what is described in OSHA regulation, “These safety glasses must meet certain ANSI standards, and if they don’t, your employer may be subject to sanctions from OSHA”.

Worker Using Angle Grinder in Factory and throwing sparks

OSHA regulations don’t require your employer to purchase new prescription glasses for employees, however. If you wear prescription glasses in your everyday life, your employer must give you goggles. These goggles must “allow corrective lenses to be placed behind the goggle lenses or that employees can wear over their eyeglasses”.

However, if you want to purchase and wear your own prescription safety glasses, they comply with the relevant ANSI standard. In most cases, this is ANSI Z87.1. But, ensure that you are meeting the standard before purchasing your new pair of prescription safety glasses.

Understanding Z87

Ultimately, we hope that you understood what Z87 is. As also why you may see a Z87 marking on your next pair of safety glasses. Once again, Z87 signals that your pair of safety glasses meet several rigorous standards for your eye health.

In other words, the Z87 standard provides an objective look at a pair of safety glasses that you are considering. If you are looking for a pair of safety glasses, make sure they are Z87 certified.

Model RX-EX601 Safety Glasses in Matte Apple Green RX-EX601BFS-AP
Model RX-EX601 plastic prescription safety glasses with integrated side shields and removable foam gasket in matte apple green

At Rx-Safety, we are proud to offer an extensive inventory of safety glasses and prescription safety glasses. All our safety glasses are Z87 certified. So will be easy to find the best fit for your needs.

RX-15011 Prescription Safety Glasses in Black/Clear Frame with Clear Lens, Angled to the Side Left
RX-15011 Prescription Safety Glasses in Black/Clear Frame with Clear Lens, RX-15011-BKC

And if you have any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to further discuss Z87 and answer any questions that you may have.

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