OSHA Face Shield Requirements

Under OSHA regulations, workers are required to wear face shields when working in areas where there is a potential for exposure to flying objects, dust, pathogens, or other airborne particles.

OSHA face shield requirements for flying objects and dust

OSHA 29 CFR 1926.102 – Eye and face protection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is intended to protect workers from serious injury or death due to head trauma. In the past, OSHA has only required workers to wear eye protection in these situations.

The face shield requirement is just one of several new safety rules that OSHA has implemented. Recent notable changes include updates to fall protection standards and a new requirement for employers to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) at no cost to workers.

OSHA requires employers to provide eye and face protection to workers who are exposed to impacts from:

  • Fragments
  • Particles
  • Sand and dirt
  • Sparks
  • Sawdust
  • Metal slivers
  • Organic material
  • Other flying objects

Many of these are tiny objects. They often move at high velocity and cause injuries such as punctures, abrasions and bruises.

The activities that create these flying hazards include, cutting, grinding, chipping, machining, masonry, cutting, chiseling, sawing, woodworking, buffing, drilling, fastening, riveting, bending, polishing and sanding. Nearly all industries create these hazards.

According to OSHA safety glasses with side shields or goggles must be worn to protect the eyes. Face shields are considered secondary protective devices that must be worn over the top of mandated safety glasses or goggles.

OSHA face shield requirements for pathogens

OSHA’s requirements for face shield use are also detailed in their Bloodborne Pathogens standard – 29 CFR 1910.1030.

OSHA requires that employers provide workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them from bloodborne pathogens. Face shields are considered PPE and must be worn when workers are exposed to blood or other bodily fluids.

Face shields must be composed of a material that does not permit the passage of body fluids and must provide adequate coverage of the wearer’s face, neck, and sides of the head. OSHA also requires that face shields be durable, easy to clean, and comfortable to wear.

In addition to meeting OSHA’s requirements, employers should also consider the following when selecting face shields for their workers:

  • The type of work being performed.
  • The potential hazards present.
  • The fit of the face shield on the worker’s head.
  • The worker’s ability to see and hear while wearing the face shield.

OSHA face shield requirements for heat protection

High heat dangers occur around furnaces, pouring and casting metal or plastics, hot dipping, plating and welding. Extreme heat is also generated by electrical arcs.

The OSHA-required protection for high heat situations is covered in:

These are intended to protect workers from serious injury or death due to head trauma. In the past, OSHA has only required workers to wear eye protection in these situations. includes safety goggles or safety spectacles with special heat-reflecting lenses and side shields. In addition, a heat-reflective face shield that covers the face, head and neck/shoulders area may be mandatory.

It’s essential that the lenses, shields, frames and headware around these PPE items are melt-proof at the expected levels of heat. Many face shields are made with metallic reflective coatings and have insulation to protect the wearer. The face shield must also be impact-resistant, since hot metal or plastic may hit the shield at high velocity.

OSHA face shield requirements for arc flash

As mentioned above and in this article on arc flash dangers, it’s essential to follow OSHA regulations for face shields when exposure to electrical arcs is likely. This applies not only to utility linemen, windmill maintenance workers and industrial electricians, but also to commercial and residential electrical workers. Even a low voltage / low amperage electrical arc can irreparably burn the eyes.

OSHA’s face shield requirements for arc flash protection can be found here:

Why are protective face shields important?

Face shields provide barrier protection to the wearer and help protect them from splashes, saliva, and other contact with the eyes, mouth, and nose. OSHA’s personal protective equipment standard requires that employers evaluate the need for face shields or other eye and face protection and choose the type of PPE that will protect workers against the hazards present.

How do face shields protect workers?

Face shields are barriers that protect the wearer’s face from flying objects, sparks, splashes of liquids, or exposure to harmful chemicals. Workers who perform certain tasks such as grinding, welding, or working with corrosive chemicals are at risk of coming into contact with these hazards.

While face shields alone will not provide adequate protection from some hazards, they can provide an additional layer of defense when used in conjunction with other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety goggles or respiratory masks.

How do I choose the right face shield for my job?

To find the right face shield for your job, you need to consider three things: the potential hazards in your workplace, the required level of protection and the comfort of the person wearing the face shield.

The first step is to identify the potential hazards in your workplace. For example, are there any chemicals or other substances that could splash into your eyes? Are there any particles in the air that could get into your eyes or mouth? Is there any chance of being hit in the face with a projectile?

Once you’ve identified the potential hazards, you need to determine the required level of protection. For example, if you are working with a hazardous chemical, you will need a face shield that provides full coverage of your face and eyes. If you are working with a substance that could splash into your eyes, you will need a face shield that covers your eyes but not your mouth and nose. And if you are working with a substance that could get into your mouth or nose, you will need a face shield that covers your mouth and nose but not your eyes.

The last step is to consider comfort. Face shields come in different sizes and shapes, so it’s important to choose one that fits comfortably on your head. You also want to make sure that the face shield does not obstruct your vision.

How do I care for my face shield?

Clean your face shield with soap and water or a disinfectant wipes. Avoid cleaning with harsh chemicals, such as bleach, as this can damage the face shield material. If your face shield becomes scratched or damaged, replace it immediately.

How often should I replace my face shield?

You should replace your face shield when it is damaged, distorted, or no longer blocks your view. For example, if there are cracks in the plastic or the straps are stretched out, it’s time to buy a new one.

Where can I find more information on face shields?

There are many resources available to learn more about face shields and their use in protecting workers from injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a good place to start. OSHA provides free resources on their website, including a PDF guide that outlines the different types of face shields available and their proper use.

In Closing

In dangerous occupations, such as welding, smelting, general construction, or medicine, wearing face shields can keep workers adequately protected from extreme heat, flying debris, and pathogens.

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James Sylvester
About James Sylvester

James S. Sylvester is an experienced OSHA Safety Supervisor with years of experience in the construction and oil & gas industries. He focuses on workplace safety, occupational health and safety systems. Learn more about James' here or connect with him on Twitter