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American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection – ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014

“Compliance with most ANSI standards is voluntary, however ANSI Z89.1 is one of the standards that OSHA actually cites in the PPE regulations, making it the law for workers exposed to hazards requiring head protection. That’s why Petzl feels it is very important to design all our professional helmets to meet this standard. We want to help workers reduce their risk of head injuries and comply with workplace safety regulations.” –Jeremiah Wangsgard; Petzl America Technical Information Manager,, 801-926-1500.

Important to Know:

Although they may not occur as frequently as other work-related injuries, on-the-job head injuries merit special attention because of their potential severity and long-lasting effects. Years after a worker has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), for instance, he or she may still be experiencing residual deficits in physical and mental impairment as well as difficulties with mood stabilization and frustration tolerance. A TBI can even cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders.

The CDC defines a TBI as a disruption in the brain’s normal function that is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury).

A TBI can cause short- and long-term changes in:

  • Thinking (i.e., memory and reasoning)
  • Sensation (i.e., sight and balance)
  • Language (i.e., communication, expression, and understanding)
  • Emotion (i.e., depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out and social inappropriateness)

Most TBIs that occur each year are classified as mild. Concussions fall into this category, yet they can cause complex effects and result in significant time lost from work. A concussion occurs when a jolt to the head or body causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement makes the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.

Standard Requirements:

This standard establishes minimum performance and labeling requirements for protective helmets used in industrial and occupational settings that reduce the forces of impact and penetration and that may provide protection from electric shock (not arc flash).

It also includes requirements for high-visibility helmets and specifies test methods for evaluating all requirements.

Helmets conforming to the requirements of this standard are designated both by Type (based on location of impact force) and Class (based on electrical insulation), as well as any optional feature. Type I refers to top protection and Type II to lateral impact protection. Both types are tested for impact attenuation and penetration resistance. Type II helmet performance requirements include criteria for impact energy attenuation from impacts from the front, back and sides (as well as the top), off-center penetration resistance and chin strap retention. The three classes indicate the helmet’s electrical insulation rating. Class G (general) helmets are tested at 2200 volts, Class E (electrical) are tested to withstand 20,000 volts and Class C (conductive) provide no electrical protection.


Helmets that meet this standard provide limited protection but should be effective against small tools, small pieces of wood, bolts, nuts, rivets, sparks and similar hazards. Protective helmets reduce the amount of force from an impact blow but cannot provide complete head protection from severe impact and penetration.

The use of protective helmets should never be viewed as a substitute for good safety practices and engineering controls.

Helmets are designed to provide protection above the test lines, which are clearly defined in the standard. Helmets may extend below the test lines for styling or practical purposes, but no protection is to be implied below the test lines.

Alterations, attachments or additions of accessories may affect the performance of the helmet.

What is not covered by the standard:

This standard does not cover bump caps, firefighting helmets or head protection devices used in recreational activities.

Increase Your Knowledge:

Copies of the standard can be purchased online at WMHS

Did You Know?

This is the seventh revision of the American National Standard for Industrial Head Protection, ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014. The changes that were made represent an effort to accommodate characteristics of industrial head protection that end-users identified as being important as work environments change and emerging hazards are identified. This edition was prepared by the ISEA Head Protection Group as a revision to ANSI Z89.1-2009, and approved by a consensus review panel of users, government agencies and safety experts.

The core performance requirements remain unchanged. However, this updated version incorporates optional preconditioning at higher temperatures than the standard test temperatures. Head protection devices that meet the applicable product performance criteria after having been exposed to these higher temperatures will bear a unique mark indicating such, to provide easy identification to the user.

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