Infectious transmissions can occur through contact with the eyes and face. ANSI Z87.1 covers many occupational hazards, but some biological hazards are not addressed.
The standard establishes criteria for using, testing, marking, choosing and maintaining eye protection to prevent or minimize injuries from eye hazards.
This article presents a test, test apparatus and results to set and support the ANSI Z87.1 criteria to include those of biological hazards.
Nearly all occupations present hazards that require workers to wear eye protection. Users need to know that safety glasses have been rigorously tested and evaluated to a set of industry standards. This knowledge allows wearers to be confident that their safety glasses will do the job, so that workers can focus on the task at hand without worrying about whether their eyes are, in fact, protected.
Whenever employees or employers need to reference standards on eye protection, they generally are referred to ANSI Z87.1-2020. Although this standard covers many occupational hazards, a few are not addressed, including biological hazards such as bloodborne pathogens. ANSI Z87.1 does not cover eye protectors for biological hazards. A subcommittee was formed to develop a new standard, ANSI Z87.62, which will include various testing procedures that mimic the different types of biological hazard exposures that can be experienced (spurt and spray). Some targeted occupations with expected exposures to these hazards include nurses, doctors performing procedures, dental healthcare workers and laboratory workers in health-related research fields. A draft test apparatus, testing method and standard have been created to test whether PPE is providing adequate worker protection.
According to Matela (2008), nearly three in five workers who suffered eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job, and 94% of the eye and face injuries to workers wearing eye protection resulted from objects or chemicals going around or under the protective device. OSHA (2016) standard 29 CFR 1910.133 dictates that an employer must provide appropriate eye protection, which then leads the worker to ANSI for its descriptions of hazards and selections of different protectors.