20 Apr 16
Examining OSHA’s Latest Eye Protection Rule
Much has changed since 2010: fashion, your iPhone, and maybe even your waistline. When it comes to eye protection however, OSHA is still catching up. Last year, ANSI/ISEA Z87.1, the U.S. Occupational & Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices Standard (read: the Eyewear Standard), was updated from a 2010 revision to a 2015. While there were some changes to test method references for certain types of products as part of the 2015 revision, the overall testing and marking criteria for safety spectacles remained unchanged.
OSHA, as part of its 1910 General Industry Standard, has consistently cited eye and face protection compliant with the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 Standard as a requirement for worker PPE. The specifics can be viewed here. While an ANSI/ISEA standard is required to be renewed, revised, or withdrawn on a regular schedule, OSHA does not operate on the same timetable. As such, OSHA’s current eye protection requirements reference ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2003 as the most current U.S. eye protection standard, two versions behind. Eye protection compliant with revisions previous to 2003 (going back to 1989) is also currently acceptable.
Throughout 2015 and into 2016, OSHA has worked to update 1910. This update was published in the Federal Register as a Final Rule in March 2016. At the time OSHA started their update, the ANSI Z87.1 standard of record was the 2010 revision as the 2015 revision to ANSI Z87.1 was not yet published. Despite the best efforts of the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA)’s Eye & Face Protection group and others, OSHA’s process was not able to accommodate modifying work already done to include the 2015 version. So OSHA’s references will again lag a revision behind ANSI Z87.1.
While the federal obligation for compliance currently acknowledges 2003 and earlier (and will soon include 2010), manufacturers have moved much more quickly to ensure that products are designed with state-of-the-art materials and technologies, and tested using the latest methods. Employers and workers can also rest assured that nothing related to safety spectacles is different from a protection standpoint under the 2015 revision of ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 from that of the 2010 edition. Finally, though written OSHA rules are lagging, it is not a policy of OSHA to punish employers for compliance with a more current version of the same cited PPE standard. After all, it’s hard to fault someone for keeping up with the times.