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Face Shields


  • General information about face shields
  • Face shields in the laboratory
  • Face shields in maintenance and repair activities
  • Cleaning & disinfecting guidance for face shields

General information about face shields

  • A face shield is a piece of rigid, clear plastic attached to a headband.
  • Face shields come in various forms, such as disposable or reusable, but all provide a clear plastic barrier that covers the face.
  • Some materials are more rigid than others and some shields are more scratch-resistant, prolonging the overall life of the shield.
  • Optical clarity in a plastic shield is critical.
  • If possible, do not share your face shield with others.
  • If there are an insufficient number of face shields available for each person to be assigned their own face shield, be sure to clean and disinfect your face shield before sharing with another person.
  • For optimal protection, the shield should extend below the chin anteriorly, to the ears laterally, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece.
  • Face shields may be worn voluntarily as a general personal protective piece of equipment, or they may be required personal protective equipment based upon a hazard assessment of the job task to be performed.
  • Required use face shields must meet the OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.133 standard that requires the use of eye and face protection when workers are exposed to eye or face hazards such as flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.
  • The majority of required eye and face protection in use today is designed, tested and manufactured in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) American National Standard, ANSI Z87.1-2010
  • General use face shields do not need to meet ANSI standards and may be worn as voluntary use.
  • General use face shields are not a replacement for a face covering, but rather shall be worn together with a face covering.
  • General use face shields offer several advantages for protection against COVID-19, particularly when worn together with a face covering:
    • Face shields provide full face protection and they are nearly impossible to wear incorrectly.
    • They can be reused indefinitely
    • Are easily cleaned
    • They reduce the potential for autoinoculation by preventing the wearer from touching their face.
  • Face shields shall be cleaned at least daily after use.

Face shields in the laboratory

  • A face shield does not completely protect the eyes, therefore protective eye wear (goggles for chemical splash hazard; glasses for particulate and flying debris hazard) is required to be worn under the face shield.
  • Various procedures in a laboratory require a laboratory worker to wear a face shield as part of their personal protective equipment. For example, face shields, along with safety goggles, are required when filling/dispensing liquid nitrogen.
  • When face shields are required PPE in laboratories, it is the responsibility of the laboratory PI to purchase and make them available to laboratory workers.
  • Refer to your laboratory Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and hazard analyses to determine specific personal protective equipment requirements for your laboratory tasks.
  • Note: There are face shields with an ANSI approved goggles assembly available (example… ).

Face shields in maintenance and repair activities

  • There are various types of specialty face shields that may be worn by maintenance personnel. They are:
    • Arc Flash – These face shields are used for protection against an arc flash. The requirements for arc flash protection are given in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E standard.
    • Heat and Radiation – These provide protection against heat and radiation. These face shields prevent burns by filtering out intense ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation. They are made from polycarbonate with special coatings. An example of this would be adding a thin layer of gold film to increase reflectivity.
    • Welding – Shaded welding face shields provide protection from UV and IR radiation generated when working with molten metal.
    • Plumbing – Due to the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus in fecal matter and sewage, plumbing workers may opt to wear a face shield in addition to goggles to prevent sewage splash to the face and mucous membranes.

Cleaning & disinfecting guidance for face shields

  • A simple alcohol wipe or rinse with soap and hot water is all it takes for the shields to be contaminant-free again.
  • To avoid creating surface scratches, submerge the face shield in warm water to dislodge particulate matter.
  • Add a mild liquid dish detergent, like Dawn, to reduce surface tension, and allow the soapy water to evenly disperse across the surface.
  • A soft cloth or sponge can be used to gently clean the shield.
  • Rinse the shield in clear water and dry with a soft cotton towel or a microfiber cloth.
  • Remember soap and water removes microbes on our hands, so it will work on your face shield as well.
  • You may feel that a surface disinfectant wipe or spray is necessary but these products can leave a visible residue, which then needs to be removed.
  • A 70% alcohol wipe will also disinfect and keep plastic surfaces clear, but it is critical to first wash the face shield to remove the bioburden prior to disinfecting.
  • Remember too, that face shields are made from various types of plastics and over time, some face shields may get brittle or cloudy when disinfected with alcohol or other disinfectants. This may shorten the usable life span or your face shield.
  • Wiping the head band with a 70% alcohol wipe after cleaning is acceptable.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning specialty face shields.
  • Damaging a face shield:
    • Avoid using household cleaners that contain ammonia or products formulated to clean glass surfaces. Cleaners like these have the potential to damage plastic surfaces resulting in a permanently cloudy surface.
    • Commercial cleaners that contain any type of grit are also not recommended, including toothpaste.
    • Avoid using paper towels, which can easily scratch the face shield.


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