Face Shield to Meet PPE Category 1 in NFPA 70E

red background with burning question

Question: Your company provided training for us earlier this year, and I was hoping that you could help us with an electrical PPE question I had.

The PPE requirements for a hazard risk category 1 state that an arc rated face shield is required. Under the footnotes in the HRC table, it states that the face shield must cover the forehead, neck, and ears. While it does not explicitly state that a balaclava is required, we are wondering if a standard face shield fills these requirements. Here is an example of the face shield we use. Thanks in advance for any help!

Answer: The standard is, as always, a little unclear.

The wording in the note for PPE Category 1 states, “Face shields are to have wrap-around guarding to protect not only the face but also the forehead, ears, and neck, or, alternatively, an arc-rated arc flash suit hood is required to be worn.”

There are two issues in interpreting this:

  1. Do you have arc flash calculations with labeled equipment?  If you do, then the PPE Categories are not to be used. Use Annex H.3 to select PPE which would indicate that you use a balaclava if the exposure is >1.2 cal/cm².
  2. If you are truly using the tables for your risk assessment, the intent is to keep the worker from easily getting burned in a listed exposure.  A face shield with a chin cup and side guards does comply.  Half shields would not comply.  There are some shields which have greater side protection than others, but the standard does not define this at all.  The face shield you listed does comply from the perspective of ArcWear and e-Hazard because it extends toward the ears and has a chin cup.

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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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2 Responses

  1. Hugh, I was in NY at the old Kodak facility and ran across an argument with regard to the Term Certified. A learned person with PE CME and many other things after his name responded; you cannot Certify anyone for 70E; you can train them, but you cannot guarantee them Certified; only their employer makes that determination”.

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