Face Shield Requirements NFPA 70E vs NESC

Jun 17, 2019
I work for an electric utility that has open air substations with voltages of 12kV to 345kV. We are currently re-evaluating our PPE requirements for arc flash hazards. The NFPA 70E requires a face shield at 1.2 cal/cm2 but the NESC does not require a face shield until 9 cal/cm2. What incident energy do you recommend a face shield be worn and why? Any thoughts on why the requirements are so different between NFPA 70E and NESC?

Hugh Hoagland

Staff member
Dec 30, 2016
Louisville, KY
The difference in NESC and NFPA 70E is apparent. NESC doesn't require ANY eye or face protection but remember it is written by utility employees, utility consultants and a very few union members. OSHA pushed NESC to beef up the protection and now the committee is continuing to move in the right direction.

However the following should be noted. OSHA has required eye and face protection from electrical arcs since 1991 in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.335(a)(1)(v) which states, "Employees shall wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from electrical explosion." Most people don't even know it is there.

Additionally in 2014-15 OSHA finalized a new 1910.269 requiring face protection at 5 cal for box arc conditions and 8 cal on single phase open arcs (basically powerlines which cannot produce a 3P arc [covered lines or HV]).

Injuries to the hands and face are the most psychologically and occupationally damaging. Protect them.