The Specifications of Safety Glasses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates working conditions and equipment required to keep workers safe. Among the personal protective equipment that is required and regulated by OHSA are safety glasses. OSHA regulations require safety glasses to meet specifications set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as well as having their own minimum requirements. The ANSI standards cover the protection level, markings and sideshield requirements of safety glasses.

Minimum OSHA Requirements

OSHA requires that safety glasses provide sufficient protection from the hazard they are designed for, are durable and are able to be disinfected. They must be easy to clean and fit snugly. The worker must not be impaired by the safety glasses, and they must be reasonably comfortable to wear.

Protection Level

ANSI requires that all safety glasses fit into one of two protection levels, basic or high. The protection level refers to the impact resistance of the glasses. Basic impact lenses must be able to withstand a one-inch steel ball being dropped onto them from 50 inches high. High impact lenses must resist the force of 1/4-inch balls shot at them. All frames must meet the high impact rating.


Safety glasses must have markings that designate the impact level they have been tested to. Basic impact glasses must be marked with the mark of the manufacturer. High impact lenses must have the manufacturer’s mark with a plus sign next to it, denoting their higher protection level.

Sideshield Requirements

The sideshield protection may extend 10 millimeters along the side of the glasses. This shield may be made part of the lens or frame or may be a separate piece. Sideshields are not required by the ANSI standard, but OSHA requires lateral protection whenever flying debris is present in the workplace.

Related Articles