Which safety spectacles are suitable to wear with arc flash face shields and hoods?
There are some companies in the market that promote “arc flash protective safety spectacles”. Even if the spectacles were manufactured with a material that absorbed the thermal energy of an Arc Flash incident (like Oberon’s arc flash face shields and hood windows) the limited surface area of the user’s face that a spectacle would cover would make the product ineffective at best! Much of the users face would be severely injured/burned by the thermal energy of the arc flash. Further, there would be limited protection to the face against injury from shrapnel created by the arc by a simple spectacle. It is important to note that the standards do not recognize the use of safety spectacles or “arc flash” goggles as suitable/ recognized arc flash protection.
NFPA 70E references the use of ANSI Z87.1 safety spectacles under a face shield or hood because the ANSI Z87.1 Standard (Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye & Face Protection) obligates the user to wear a safety spectacle or safety goggles under a face shield or hood window. Ultimately, a face shield is considered to be a secondary eye protective devise even though it covers your eyes and your face you still need to wear a primary eye protective device under the face shield such as a safety spectacle or cover goggle. Many users may be tempted to wear a face shield without safety spectacles beneath because it may not seem to make sense, but that is in the standard and that is what OSHA is looking for. NFPA 70E is not referencing any specific safety spectacle, nor one with any enhanced thermal protection. It is only calling for a safety spectacle (a simple clear lens safety spectacle such as Oberon T788-30).
It is important to note that one should be cautioned against wearing metal framed spectacles, either safety or prescription. If the spectacles were to fall from your face, into an energized system, the metal could initiate the arcing fault, which could cause an arc flash.
If the user or his employer have conducted an incident energy analysis and determined the level of suitable arc flash protection for the task to be performed, the standard is not calling for the use of a safety spectacle with enhanced protection. They simply want a safety spectacle per ANSI Z87.1. The face shield or hood window is providing the protection against the thermal incident energy.
Legal:Always conduct a task based risk assessment procedure to determine the proper PPE. The statements made here are for informational purposes only. This and Oberon’s marketing material does not recommend specific solutions for specific tasks but provides recommendations based upon its customer’s input. This and Oberon’s marketing material are in no way a substitution for the actual safety standards referenced or implied. Please refer to the actual standards or consult your supervisor, safety officer or human resources with any questions you have regarding the standards or the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for your task.