Eyewear Safety Information

Many events have safety considerations that must be taken into account by team members as well as coaches. Specifically, many events require that team members bring the appropriate safety equipment (Personal Protective Equipment [PPE]) with them in order to compete. This section of the web site is devoted to better understanding the Eyewear PPE associated with the Olympiad.


The most misunderstood of the safety regulations is the use of safety goggles versus safety glasses as well as the different types of safety goggles that are available.


Contestants are responsible for providing their own protective eyewear.  Eye protection specified in the rules (#1, #2, #3, #4, or #5) is the minimum required.  Science Olympiad is unable to determine the degree of hazard presented by equipment/materials/devices brought by the teams.  Adult coaches/mentors of those teams must insure the eye protection they bring is adequate for the hazard.  Teams WILL NOT be allowed to compete without adequate eye protection. This in NON-NEGOTIABLE.


Protective eyewear used in Science Olympiad must be manufactured to meet the American National Standards Institute standard applicable at its time of manufacture. The current standard is ANSI Z87.1-2003. Approved protective eyewear can be identified by the mark "Z87" placed on it by its manufacturer. This mark can be difficult to locate, especially on devices made of transparent material.



This year there are 5 levels of eye protection that are possible (#1, #2, #3, #4, or #5).  ALL protective eyewear must not only conform to ANSI Z87 (or Z87+ for Impact), but must provide a degree of protection equal to or higher than the type described in the event rules.



#1. Safety Spectacles (ANSI Z87)

These are commonly referred to as safety glasses. They provide particle protection only and may not be used in lieu of any other type of protective eyewear.




#2. Safety Spectacles with Side Shields (ANSI Z87)

Similar to Safety Spectacles above, they provide particle protection only. These will be specified when there is a probability of particles entering the eye from the side. This condition commonly occurs when multiple contestants/teams are engaged in an activity simultaneously. Safety Spectacles with Side Shields may be used in lieu of Safety Spectacles without side shields.





#3. Particle Protection Goggles (ANSI Z87)

These must seal tightly to the face completely around the eyes and have direct vents around the sides. Direct vents consist of several small holes or a screen that can be seen through in a straight line. They may not be used when handling hazardous liquids because the vents provide a direct path for the liquid to enter the eye. They may be used in lieu of Safety Spectacles with/without side shields.





#4. Chemical/Splash Protection Goggles (ANSI Z87)

These must seal tightly to the face completely around the eyes and have indirect vents. These vents are constructed so that liquids do not have a direct path into the eye. If you are able to see through the vent holes from one side to the other, they are direct vents and the goggles may not be used when Chemical/Splash Protection is required. Chemical/Splash Protection goggles may be worn to provide particle protection in lieu of any of the types mentioned above (#1-#4).





#5. High Impact Protection (ANSI Z87+)

Another attribute to be considered is Impact Protection. Protective eyewear bearing the mark "Z87" provides basic impact protection. Devices that meet the "High Impact" specifications of ANSI Z87.1-2003 are identified by the mark "Z87+".


High Impact protection is indicated when there may be a high inertia particle hazard (high mass or velocity). This will be specified in the rules by preceding the type of protective eyewear above (#1-#4) with the words "High Impact". e.g., High Impact Particle Protection Goggles or Spectacles.


The “high-impact” type of eye protection may look identical to ANY of the above with the exception of the lenses having an impact rating!  Be sure to see the “Z87+” mark and not just “Z87”…as they are NOT the same thing!



Again, your safety eyewear must provide a degree of protection equal to or higher than the type described in the event rules.  Therefore, if an event calls for Type #2 eyewear protection then types #2, #3, #4, or #5 can be used; just not a #1.  The best course of action would to use Type #5 eyewear as it covers all of the other versions and can be universally used in all events!!