Check the Faceshield in Your ASTM F2178 Arc Flash Hood

Check Your AR PPE ©2-19 e-Hazard

Question on PPE

We recently became aware of a worksite which was auditing a contractor’s PPE for compliance to NFPA 70E and OSHA 1910 standards. A contractor was using the pictured arc flash safety hood. At first glance, it appeared a mistake had been made by the manufacturer inserting a 25 cal/cm² faceshield into a 40 cal/cm² arc-rated hood.

After talking with the contractor, the site electrical safety officer, who had discovered the improper label, found on her investigation that the contractor had inadvertently purchased the hoods without faceshields and then received 25 cal/cm² shields instead of the required 40 cal/cm² shields. Since no one knew to check, the 25 cal/cm² shields were installed in the 40 cal/cm² hoods. As a result of the find, several other arc flash hoods were found to be improperly assembled and underrated.

ArcWear Test Lab, the leading arc rating company in the US, was asked about this manufacturer and found a few manufacturers who had in the past sold hoods without faceshields as compliant with ASTM F1506 but NOT tested to ASTM F2178 as would be required by the hood assembly (both of the manufacturers stated they did not do this now). This is not a recommended practice. All faceshield and hood assemblies are required to be tested to ASTM F2178 as the product is sold. Hoods that only have labels for F1506 have not been tested as an assembly and are relying on the test data of the fabric alone.

One person contacted about this article felt that faceshields should not be removable.  We don’t agree; faceshields that can be replaced are important to prevent having to purchase a whole new hood when a faceshield is scarred or old.  We recommend replacing shields every 2-5 years.

But manufacturers could consider making different level shields with a different attachment method or something to make them either not fit properly or a means of alerting the end user when replacing with the wrong part.  The label was clear, and a competent person should have caught the mistake.

Never replace a shield with an underrated shield or any shield which is not specifically tested with the proper assembly. Purchase replacement shields from the OEM so you receive the right shield when making a replacement.


  1. Always check PPE labels.
  2. Purchase from reputable dealers, even online.
  3. If it is too cheap to be true, it is probably not true.
  4. Check your contractor’s PPE just like you check your employees’ PPE.
  5. Train your qualified persons on how to check their PPE.

Need an onsite audit to check your safety program and PPE for compliance to OSHA and NFPA 70E? Contact e-Hazard.

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If you have a question about electrical safety and standards, ask us here OR on our forum!

Hugh Hoagland

Hugh Hoagland

Hugh Hoagland is the foremost tester of clothing and PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Read more about Hugh.

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3 Responses

  1. This should have been caught by the person using the PPE it’s first time out. This is why daily, before use, inspections are so important.

  2. This happened on a jobsite I worked on and I talk about this scenario in all my classes. Something looked strange on the arc hoods of the two apprentices that were feeding the parallel feed on a wire pull. After the wire pull we took a break and I discovered both of them were not protected at 40 cal/cm² because the arc hoods had 12 cal/cm² face shields on them! Someone had applied a Velcro loop on the 12 cal face shields to match them to the Velcro hook on the 40 cal arc hoods. Aside from not having the proper level of protection they didn’t have a proper seal around the face shield which creates an entry point for the arc flash in the event one would happen.

    Our lab also provides a cleaning & inspection service for arc flash suits and issues like these come up more often than one can imagine. If you haven’t been trained to recognize this or you don’t know how to don your electrical PPE then you’re probably not qualified, you weren’t trained properly or you need retraining.

    Always inspect your PPE and only buy the manufacturer’s recommended replacement face shield. Not all arc hoods are made the same. If you order a face shield and the hook&loop is not the same as the one you needed, that’s a red flag. If the arc hood doesn’t have a proper seal around the face shield, that’s a red flag. If the arc rating on the the face shield is not equal to or greater than the arc hoods arc rating, that’s a red flag.

    And as always this reminder, it’s called electriCAL training not electriCIAN training. If employees are exposed to electrical hazards greater than 50 volts then they need training. This goes for the HVAC tech troubleshooting ELECTRIC air handlers and ELECTRIC condensers or the plumber (yes, the plumber) measuring voltage at a 480v 3ph OCPD or disconnect switch feeding ELECTRIC water heaters. All workers exposed to electrical hazards can be electrocuted, shocked or burned from an arc flash and sent to the hospital just like an electrician can.

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