Arc Flash Face Shields Explained

Arc Flash Face Shields

Arc Flash Face Shields

Arc Flash Face Shields
Electrical workers, linesmen and electricians working with high voltage connections are sometimes exposed to the sudden release of energy that occurs during an electrical arc or arc flash.

An arc flash incident can result in serious burns and death, and is taken very seriously by the electrical industry.

Arc flash face shields are generally worn to protect the face from molten metal or from arcing energy, and are a vital piece of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Often the shields will be sold as attachments for hardhats, helmets, or bump caps. Other types of face shields come as a whole headpiece.

Faceguards should attach to any slotted helmet or hardhat for the major brands, ensuring you get the highest level of protection if you already have a helmet.

Arc flash face shields are typed by calories per centimeters squared rating. To be considered reliable and regulatory, the calories per centimeters squared must be at least 8. This is the minimal level of protection necessary to be considered appropriate for this situation (however, some facilities will demand a higher minimum protection, so you should adhere to those rules within the workplace).

Many of these types of face guards and arc flash face shields will have an anti-fog coating with every piece sold. Clear vision can be crucial when working in arc flash environments, where dexterity and precision are needed.

Arc flash face shields can be tinted as well to offer more protection. The colour of the tint will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

An often-overlooked component of arc flash face shields protection is the chin guard (in full helmet situations). Chin guards serve the purpose of allowing you to have a sort of shock absorber for your whole head, and ensure that the helmet and face shield remain firmly in position.

Since January 1, 2003, there have been requirements for electrical workers to use face protection to meet arc flash standards, set out in the National Fire Protection Association standard 70E (in Canada, it is CSA Z462). The face shield is but one component of PPE, required by workers to wear when exposed to the threat of an arc flash incident.

NFPA 70E establishes Hazard or Risk categories, with the minimum Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATPV). (Cal/cm2 stands for calories per square centimeter).


The following minimum ATPV in cal/cm are for category 2 and higher:


  • Category 2*
  • Safety helmet, Safety glasses, Arc shield requires 8 cal/cm2 ATPV
  • Category 3
  • Safety helmet, Safety glasses, Multi layer switch hood, Hearing protection requires 25 cal/cm2 ATPV
  • Category 4
  • Safety helmet, Safety glasses, Multi layer switch hood, Hearing protection requires 40 cal/cm2 ATPV
  • *It should be noted that in some situations, arc flash face shields is disallowed in category 2, with the flash suit hood being the only legitimate option.


The various standards dealing directly with Arc flash face shields include:


  • OSHA Standards 29-CFR, Part 1910. Occupational Safety and Health Standards. 1910 sub part S (electrical) Standard number 1910.333 specifically addresses Standards for Work Practices and references NFPA 70E.
  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 70 - The National Electrical Code (NEC) contains requirements for warning labels.
  • NFPA 70E provides guidance on implementing appropriate work practices that are required to safeguard workers from injury while working on or near exposed electrical conductors or circuit parts that could become energized.
  • The Canadian Standards Association's CSA Z462 Arc Flash Standard is Canada's version of NFPA70E.
  • The Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers IEEE 1584 – Guide to Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations.

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