Face Shields: A Good Idea for A Safe Workplace
Our eyes, nose and mouth are often exposed to multiple risks at work, ranging from splinters or liquid splatter to infectious particles that can put staff at particular risk, especially in service and healthcare professions. Wearing a transparent visor or face shield protects the sensitive face area without restricting vision, helping ensure a safe work environment.
Face shields: features and advantages
Face shields (also known as visors, face visors or protective visors) are sheets of transparent plastic that cover the entire eye, nose and mouth area. Unlike face masks, face shields do not fit tightly around the face, but instead ‘float’ in front of the wearer’s face. This makes it easier to breathe than when wearing a mask, so face shields are ideal when comfort is key and face protection needs to be worn for longer periods of time.
Another benefit is that face shields allow people to see the wearer’s face. This makes it easier to communicate with customers or clients. In addition, beards and glasses do not interfere with the functionality of face shields. Another big plus for those who wear glasses is that, compared to face masks, wearing a face shield does not fog up glasses as much. After use, plastic visors can be easily cleaned and disinfected and can be reused multiple times.
What do face shields do?
Face shields primarily protect against particles and fluid splatter that come into contact with the outside of the visor. For example, face shields protect the wearer against splinters and dust particles when sawing, cutting or welding, thereby preventing injuries to the face. Face shields also provide a barrier for even the smallest droplets of saliva released when talking or sneezing. These droplets can contain pathogens, leading to infection.
However, a visor does not have the same features a mask does. Because face shields do not fit snugly around the mouth and nose area, they are not suitable for protection against harmful gases or aerosols. These applications require a particle filtering mask (FFP mask). Face shields also only offer limited protection against pathogens to those in the area around the wearer. Although they deflect larger liquid droplets downwards when the wearer coughs or sneezes, aerosols can still make it into the air past the visor. To prevent this, however, face shields can easily be combined with face masks.
Face shields: key applications
Face shields are part of the required personal protective equipment (PPE) that must be provided by employers in many professions. Face shields are worn wherever there is a risk of splinters, splatter or dust particles flying up into the wearer’s face, for example in
- certain trade professions
- industry and production
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, employees in service professions and healthcare have increasingly been wearing face shields. This kind of transparent face protection is a good option whenever direct contact with customers or patients is involved, for example in
- doctors’ surgeries
- healthcare professions (physiotherapists, midwives, etc.)
- restaurants and hotels
- public offices with direct client contact
Caution: Face shields are not considered adequate protection in many German states. Where greater protection is required, a snug fitting mask or face covering should be worn under the visor.
Face shields: legal standards and certification
Face shields in the workplace are considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and must therefore meet the requirements of the EU PPE regulation (2016/425). Among other things, this regulation requires standardised testing and certification processes for quality assurance. In particular, face shields must comply with the requirements for personal eye protection under European standard DIN EN 166. It requires criteria like
- protection against flammability
- a sufficiently large, transparent field of view
- no sharp edges that could cause injury
- material that can withstand disinfectants
We exclusively stock products produced and tested in compliance with DIN EN 166 as part of our product range. You can tell a product is appropriately certified by checking the CE label.
Criteria for buying face shields
Although all of the most well-known manufacturers comply with the legal standards, there are still differences between individual products. Be sure to pay attention to the following criteria when choosing a face mask:
Face shields are made of transparent plastic, usually polycarbonate. It is important for the visor material to be as light yet as strong, impact-resistant and scratch-resistant as possible. The plastic should also be resistant to perspiration.
In the service industry in particular, face shields are not normally exposed to a great deal of mechanical stress. Face shields should therefore be as lightweight as possible to ensure they can be worn comfortably, even over longer periods of time. Products designed for use on construction sites or in industrial settings may be slightly heavier due to their more robust design.
Protection against fogging
The material used should remain transparent in varying temperatures. Many manufacturers add an anti-fog coating to the plastic visor to prevent it from filming over.
A sufficiently large protective field
Protective visors only do their job when they cover the eye, nose and mouth area as completely as possible at the front and sides. However, it should not impede the wearer’s freedom of movement.
The head mount should be adjustable for size and should feature a cushioning pad to prevent pressure points.
Conveniently buy CE-certified face shields online
Never compromise on safety in the workplace! Our shop exclusively stocks tested, certified face shields that meet the requirements of DIN EN 166. If necessary, face shields can be combined with other products like protective respirator masks or protective clothing.
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