ANSI Eye and Face Protection Standard Reaffirmed

The July 5 explosion that injured 21 workers at a Louisiana alumina refinery was caused by a power distribution interruption, the company said Aug. 13.

The 1989 edition of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard Z87, the Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection Standard, has been unanimously reaffirmed by the members of the Z87 ANSI Committee.

The vote is less a show of support for the existing standard, however, than it is the fear that a consensus on revisions could not be reached before the extensions on the five-year revision schedule ran out. If that had occured, the committee risked the withdrawal of the standard.

Tod Turriff, technical director for Prevent Blindness America and chair of the Z87 Committee, commented, "The committee has been working for more than five years on a much-needed revision to the 1989 edition of the standard, but several contentious issues have slowed down the process."

Some members wanted to make a high-velocity, high-mass, high-impact test for safety lenses part of the standard, which was a major sticking point, according to insiders. Other issues debated over the past 10 years include simplification of the standard's language; the inclusion and definition of auto-darkening welding filters; the addition of a requirement requiring sideshields for all safety eyewear; and a provision to have a safety eyewear certification system similar to the respirator certification program run by the National Insitute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

ANSI committees are required to revise, reaffirm or withdraw each standard on a five-year schedule. When work cannot be completed during that time frame, extensions, up to five additional years, are granted. If no action is taken by the 10-year anniversary date of the previous edition's approval, then the standard is no longer an approved ANSI standard.

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