Use correct primary, secondary eye protection

Why do I have to wear eye protection under a face shield with an ANSI Z87.1 rating?

Answered by Bill Reith, national accounts, regional sales manager, Salisbury, Skokie, IL.

The American National Standards Institute's Practice For Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection standard Z87.1-1979 (ANSI Z87.1) is the benchmark standard for occupational eye and face protection. Two sections of this standard, 9 and 10, include specific guidelines for impact resistance, lens clarity, lens thickness and penetration resistance in regard to projectiles. In order to be compliant as eye and/or face protection, the device must be marked with "Z87.1."

ANSI Z87.1 also delineates between primary protection, secondary protection and face shields. The definitions for these categories are:

  • Primary protection – A device that may be worn alone or in conjunction with a secondary protector
  • Secondary protection – A device that shall be worn only in conjunction with a primary protector
  • Face shield – A protective device commonly worn to shield the wearer's face, or portions thereof in addition to the eyes, from certain hazards. Face shields are secondary protection and shall be used only in conjunction with primary protection.
The American Society for Testing and Materials F 2178-02, Standard Test Method for Determining the Arc Rating of Face Protective Products, is the standard that all arc-rated face shields must meet. This standard specifically references the ANSI Z87.1 and the requirement that arc-rated face shields conform to this standard.

The NFPA 70E protective clothing and personal protective equipment matrix 130.7(C)(10) requires arc-rated face shields or hoods for hazard risk category 2. Hoods are required for hazard risk categories 3 and 4. Safety glasses or goggles must be worn in all hazard risk categories.

Because of the acceptance of ANSI Z87.1 by NFPA 70E, the American Society for Testing and Materials, and OSHA, the answer is simple. Arc-rated face shields are not designed specifically for eye protection, and, as per ANSI Z87.1, face shields are secondary protection only and can only be worn in conjunction with primary protection, such as safety glasses or goggles.

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