Audit Your Company’s Safety Equipment: Break Down Your ANSI Standards for Easy Compliance

Internal audits are the trickiest part of every job. Even on your company’s network, there are hundreds of hidden away files, old email attachments, and dusty corners in your company’s servers. It’s even harderphillips to do an audit of physical equipment. Boxes and old parts might be stored everywhere from older desk drawers to supply closets on a faraway floor. You also have to comb through online files to track down previous purchases and equipment at other locations.

But without a complete list of your company’s equipment, it’s impossible to know what you have. You can’t be certain your physical equipment is compliant with OSHA’s regulations, and you can’t guarantee your coworkers’ safety in high-risk radiation and laser environments. As you’re creating or maintaining a list of protective equipment, pay particular attention to eyewear. ANSI’s Z87 standards, or the American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices, have seen a few updates over the years that you and your department need to keep an eye on.

Make sure your equipment logs list the specific ANSI/ISEA standard code.

Knowing that your company has the requisite number of laser safety eyewear isn’t enough. Your company also needs to have a living document that specifies the ANSI standard each piece of equipment specifies so you can automate the reminders for future mandatory updates.

It’s a long, tedious job, but someone needs to check what is emblazoned on the side of every piece of equipment that should meet ANSI standards to be compliant with OSHA’s requirements. If any piece of eyewear doesn’t have that information available on the side, it’s probably not compliant.

Checking each piece of equipment is also more accurate than batching equipment together by department and appearance. Recent purchases may have been designed to meet ANSI’s 2010 or 2015 updates instead of older standards from 2003. This is good news, and recording it now can prevent unnecessary expenses in the future.

What does an ANSI code look like?

As far as eyewear is concerned, the code should start with ‘Z87.’ Some companies mark the code with the manufacturer’s symbol or they precede ‘Z87′ with ‘ANSI’ for extra clarity. However, these extra markings weren’t always necessary; Z87 is unique, and it won’t be repurposed by a company to mean something else. Start to look for the code near other specifications engraved in the equipment, like what country the product was made in.

If your equipment was made according to 2010 standards, then the equipment won’t be marked by a simple ‘Z87.’ It will follow a precise layout for maximum information in the smallest amount of space possible. Under the 2010 standards, the sequences of markings are:

  • For frames: [Manufacturer's logo] [the specific Z87 standard] [optional impact marking of '+']
  • For lenses: [Manufacturer's logo] [optional impact marking of '+'] [optional marks for special lens types]

For example, you might see frames marked ‘XYZ Z87+,’ which identifies the manufacturer, the Z87 standard, and that the frames are rated for impact resistance.

What are the optional markings on lenses?

Lenses come in varying shapes, sizes, and additional functionalities. Some eyeglasses need to protect the wearers against las

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ers, while others need to protect eyes against welding light. Here are the codes:

  • No mark: clear
  • W[#]: Welding protection of a specific degree; the number will designate the lenses’ protectiveness against ANSI’s scale.
  • U[#]: UV filtration according to a scaled. 6 is the highest level of protection.
  • L[#]: visible light filtration.
  • R[#]: IR filtration
  • V: there is variable tint
  • S: special purpose

Lenses can also be marked with a ‘+’ to designate tested impact resistance.

If you mark down the ANSI code in its entirety on your living audit document, you can tell which equipment meets applicable standards now and in the future with spreadsheet functions. It also helps you maintain a functional inventory for when expanding departments need new equipment. When an older laser device is updated with a more powerful version, you can also see which laser safety glasses are still appropriate and which need to be replaced.

How else can you optimize your audit for easy ANSI reading and OSHA compliance?

Keeping track of all of that information is a headache. Even once you are familiar with ANSI standards codes and what each of the variable letters means, it’s hard to instantly translate that information in your head or while you’re sorting through records.

Make your future records maintenance projects easier by breaking down the codes on your spreadsheet into a checklist of features. If your sheet has both the full code and what roles each piece of equipment is rated as safe for, your company can get more mileage out of the list.

What other standards numbers should you keep a record of?

ANSI Z87 is the standards section for protective eye and face equipment. Lasers themselves have their own block of ANSI standards, and those can be found under ANSI Z136.1 in the United States, or EN207, EN208, or EC60825 in Europe.

ANSI provides a brief categorization system of lasers that can guide your company’s decisions on to what degree eye safety equipment is necessary. However, the ‘class’ of laser ANSI ascribes to your equipment is not enough to fully inform policy, and it’s always best to maintain a consistent eyewear policy to protect your coworkers’ long-term health and vision.

Lasers fall into seven classes, ranging from non-hazardous (class 1) to being a fire and burn hazard for both direct and diffuse exposure (4). For class 1, 1M, and 2 lasers, eyewear is not necessarily required unless magnifying optics are being used. Protective eyewear is recommended around lasers graded as class 2M, 3R, 3B, and eye protection is required under class 4 lasers.

When your department is auditing and inspecting safety equipment, checking for an ANSI standards code isn’t enough. But if you maintain detailed records with both the code in full and a breakdown of the codes’ meaning, you can better ensure OSHA compliance. You can also use these records for easier purchases and faster responses to compliance changes. Go to Phillips Safety Products for more information about ANSI codes and other technical specifications on your company’s protective eye equipment.

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