Jack B. Hirschmann, Jr. represents ASSE on the ANSI Z87.1 committee. In this interview, Hirschmann explains his role as Vice Chair of this committee and provides an update on the status of the standard, “Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices” (ANSI Z87.1-2003), which is currently under revision.
Please provide a brief description of your professional background and of your role as an ANSI Z87 committee member.
I am a mechanical engineer by education. I have been involved in personal protective equipment manufacturing for more than 50 years, having received my first patent at the age of 14.
I have been an ASSE member since 1972 and received the Charles V. Culberson Outstanding Volunteer Service Award in 2004. I have served on the ANSI Z87.1 committee for many years as ASSE’s representative. I am currently the Vice Chair of this committee.
What does the standard, “Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices” (ANSI Z87.1-2003), cover and what is its current status?
The ANSI Z87.1 standard covers eye and face protectors for users in both occupational and educational environments. It has existed in its current format since the publishing of the 1968 edition. Subsequent editions were published in 1979, 1989, 1998 and 2003. ANSI standards are generally updated every five years, but must be revised within ten years or they are dropped from existence.
The current ANSI Z87.1 committee’s goal was to have a new standard completed within five years. The expectation is to complete the next edition in early 2009.
How will the revised version of the ANSI Z87.1 standard differ from the 2003 version?
The current draft is based more on hazards rather than on only products as in the past. Products will carry markings to identify the hazards for which the manufacturer has tested the product and intends its use of it.
The following are marking examples in Table 4a (Marking Requirements):
Many new tests were added to this edition to provide this information.
What changes do you feel the revised ANSI Z87.1 standard should definitely include?
The revised ANSI Z87.1 standard will definitely include test and product marking to help SH&E professionals identify the correct application for the product. These tests should be any application that is life-threatening or could result in serious injury. Impact protection is critical and must be covered, but UV and IR radiation come in at a close second.
The room available on a product to permanently mark it for its use can be a problem. As ASSE’s representative, I encourage readers to send me their feedback on this issue.
The standard’s requirements should be based on product performance and testing, not on design.
Why did you recently cast a negative vote during balloting of the draft ANSI Z87.1 standard?
The current draft of the ANSI Z87.1 standard was recently sent for public review and balloting. As ASSE’s representative, I voted “negative.” My main reason was over-marking prescription safety eyewear as impact-rated when the finished product is not impact-tested at all. Currently, frames and lens material are tested separately. Several recent studies have shown that many variables exist in the finishing of the lens (grinding of lens surface, applying surface coating and edging), which can result in the lens failing an impact test.
Destructive testing can be a problem for the lens-dispensing laboratory. How does a laboratory test a one-off product? A round robin test did not indicate that a type test is adequate. Variables in finishing are open to too much human error. No licensing process is available for lens laboratory technicians to ensure proper training and performance.
Why do you feel the draft ANSI Z87.1 standard does not represent ASSE members’ best interest?
Marking a product, when it is not tested, (prescription eyewear) with a plus sign (“+”) to indicate that it will reliably provide impact protection is not in the best interest of SH&E safety professionals or users. They will have the false security that the product will protect the user when the hazard assessment requires impact protection.
Do you believe the revised ANSI Z87.1 standard will be user-friendly? Why or why not?
I believe that in our attempt to provide more information, we have created more confusion and made the standard less user-friendly. SH&E professionals will need to read the entire standard to understand what they need to recommend. Hopefully, the standard will be made more user-friendly in the future. But will the small businesses even know about the standard?
How will the revised ANSI Z87.1 standard impact SH&E eyewear safety management programs?
In its current form, I think it will make the management of safety eyewear programs more difficult because we have an aging workforce that needs prescription eyewear. I recommend that safety personnel use prescription eyewear for general use, not for impact protection. The current standard includes two levels of impact—general purpose and impact. General purpose is the historic drop ball test. Impact is the high-velocity test (1/4” ball shot at 150 ft/sec) and high-mass test (500 gram weight dropped from 50”).
The revised standard eliminates the basic category (used in 2003 edition) and includes only the impact category (formerly high-impact). The basic category will not be reinstated, as the current draft exists.
Do not let me confuse you. The issue is not about planos and prescription. Planos are mass-produced and can be statistically tested. Dual-lens prescriptions are made one at a time as a unique product. A laboratory may not make a duplicate in one week or a month. To make a duplicate for testing will greatly increase the cost of the one you buy.
How can you manage your program with this doubt? I suggest you do not use dual-lens prescription safety spectacles for impact application. Use goggles or faceshields over them. In some cases, you could use the stick-on segments on a plano spectacle or use a one-piece injection molded reader.
When will the revised ANSI Z87.1 standard be finalized?
Changes were made to try to resolve the negatives. This means there will be at least one more ballot. I will have a vote for ASSE. However, you, through public comment or me, can express your views when the next ballot comes out late this year
How can ASSE members help in the revision process?
They may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can work in their best interest.
Jack B. Hirschmann, Jr.
Jack B. Hirschmann, Jr. is an authority in the area of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the founder of Oberon Company, an arc flash PPE manufacturer that specializes in head, eye, face and body protection.
Hirschmann is an active member of ASSE, ASME and ASTM and serves on several corporate boards of directors. He also holds patents in the industrial PPE field and volunteers on many community development and educational committees in Massachusetts.