Face shields are a requirement in many professions and for a variety of tasks in the workplace. OSHA requires the use of face shields when workers are exposed to flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Specific jobs requiring the use of face shields include welders, some medical workers, industrial painters and workers in chemical plants.
While not all jobs and tasks require a face shield, they are often simply a good idea. The following 5 conditions warrant consideration for the use of face shields.
- Flying fragments. This includes dust and other material that can fly into eyes such as when using power tools to cut, shape or remove materials. Individuals using chainsaws should also use face shields like the Evlex BrushGuard with Equalizer Earmuffs and Face Shield or the Elvex ProGuard Loggers Safety Cap.
- Chance of Splashing. Those handling acids, corrosives, chemical adherents or strippers and those working with blood and other body fluids should wear face shields. Shields such as the Elvex Clear Hardcoated Lexan Face Shield can help protect against chemical splashes.
- Heat. Anyone doing furnace maintenance, engaging in welding or handling any molten substance should use a face shield. Pyramex offers several helmets providing comprehensive face and head protection for these situations. (See How to Choose a Welding Helmet and Basic Welding Safety for more details related to this topic.)
- Glare. While many circumstances warrant the need for glare reduction, sports probably provides one of the best examples. For example, face shields worn on football helmets not only help reduce glare, shields such as the Bangerz ProVU Smoke Flexible Football Eyeshield can also help protect against a variety of other factors.
- Impact. Face shields can provide additional protection against impact. However, OSHA does not recommend that workers rely on them solely for this purpose. Instead, wearing impact safety eyewear below the shield is a good idea to ensure protection against impact hazards.
In addition to the above, there are a number of considerations to take into account when deciding on the type of face shield to use as well as the features to include. Consider the following 5 options when choosing a face shield.
- Side shields on face shields provide increased protection. Those working with heat should definitely use side shields, but really any task where material could be flying around warrants using side shields. Many face shields come with protection for the sides of the face.
- Goggle styles such as the Jackson MonoShield with Goggles provide another option for face protection for those working in clean rooms, public utilities, metal processing, foundries, mining, construction and more.
- Headgear with face shields usually comes in adjustable styles. Hard hat designs such as the Elvex UltiMate Standard Ratchet Headgear for Universal Face Shields and the Elvex UltiMate Heavy Duty Ratchet Headgear for Universal Face Shields provide head and face protection. Hard hat designs can come with shields that are either plastic or wire-screen and lift-front or removable. Face shields with headgear typically include straps that are adjustable to fit an individual user, allowing face shields to be easily shared between individuals.
- Windows are available in removable or lift-front design. Removable windows allow for easy replacement while lift-front styles can be lowered and raised easily as the task requires.
- Window material comes in plastic or wire-screen models. Plastic protects against light impact and is available in clear or filtered. Wire-screen windows may include a glass or plastic insert and can protect against moderate impact, but they are not recommended for work involving chemical or liquid hazards.
For many tasks, a face shield is an absolute must. And while face shields provide a great deal of protection for the face with regard to elements such as heat, chemical splash and dust, shields DO NOT provide complete protection against impact hazards. For this reason, OSHA recommends wearing safety glasses below face shields for comprehensive impact protection.