Tinted Face Shield Requirements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that thousands of workers are blinded each year due to eye injuries. These same statistics showed that on average three out of five of these injured employees were not wearing the proper eye and face protection at the time of their injury. The majority of these injuries are caused by flying materials or particulates. However, some of these employees suffered injuries from performing tasks that exposed them to radiant energy, glare and intense light without proper eye and face protection. The required protection can be accomplished by properly using safety glasses or goggles in combination with tinted face shields. Tasks that require this type of protection include welding, torch-cutting, brazing, soldering, and laser work.

Tinted face shields are no different than any other piece of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in that certain requirements must be met when selecting and issuing them to employees.

Employers must ensure employees know:

  • when this type of face shield is to be used,
  • the hazards this type of shield will protect against,
  • its limitations, and
  • how to properly wear them and proper maintenance.

In other words, employers must be sure they have properly trained their employees in the use of tinted face shields prior to their use in the field. It is best to evaluate exposure during development of the site safety plan.

As with other eye and face protection, tinted face shields must meet the American National Standards Institute requirements. Face shields meeting these requirements will have ANSI Z87.1 clearly stamped on the shield.

So how much tint do I need for my tinted face shield?

The amount of tint is specified by a shade number. The amount of shade needed is determined by several factors including the task producing the light, arc current, and the size of the electrode being used.

The following tables specify the shade number depending on these various factors for tinted face shields:

Table 1: Filter Lenses for Protection during Shielded Metal Arc Welding1

Operation Electrode Size – Inch (mm) Arc Current (Amperes) OSHA Minimum Protective Shade Number ANSI & AWS Shade Number Recommendations*
Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) Less than 3/32 (2.4) Fewer than 60 7
3/32-5/32 (2.4-4.0) 60-160 8 10
More than 5/32-1/4 (4.0-6.4) More than 160-250 10 12
More than 1/4 (6.4) More than 250-550 11 14

Table 2: Filter Lenses for Gas Welding and Oxygen Cutting Operations1

Operation Plate Thickness – Inches Plate Thickness – mm OSHA Minimum Protective Shade Number ANSI & AWS Shade Number Recommendations*
Gas Welding Under 1/8 Under 3.2 4 5
1/4 to 1/2 3.2 to 12.7 5 6
Over 1/2 Over 12/7 6 8
Oxygen Cutting Under 1 Under 25 3 4
1 to 6 25 to 150 4 5
Over 6 Over 150 5 6

Table 3: Filter Lenses for Protection during Other Welding and Cutting Operations1

Operation Arc Current (Amperes) OSHA Minimum Protective Shade Number ANSI & AWS Shade Number Recommendations*
Gas Welding Fewer than 60 7
60-160 10 11
More than 160-250 10 12
More than 250-500 10 14
Oxygen Cutting Fewer than 50 8 10
50-150 8 12
More than 150-500 10 14
Air Carbon Arc Cutting (CAC-A) (Heavy) Fewer than 500 10 12
Air Carbon Arc Cutting (CAC-A) (Light) 500-1000 11 14
Plasma Arc Welding (PAW) Fewer than 20 6 6-8
20-100 8 10
More than 100-400 10 12
More than 400-800 11 14
Plasma Arc Cutting (PAC) (Light)** Fewer than 300 8 9
Plasma Arc Cutting (PAC) (Medium)** 300-400 9 12
Plasma Arc Cutting (PAC) (Heavy)** More than 400-800 10 14
Torch Brazing (TB) 3 3 or 4
Torch Soldering (TS) 2 2
Carbon Arc Welding (CAW) 14 14

*During oxygen gas welding or cutting where the torch produces a high yellow light, it is desirable to use a filter lens that absorbs the yellow or sodium line in the visible light (spectrum) of the operation.

** Values apply where the actual arc is clearly seen. Lighter filters may be used when the arc is hidden by the workpiece

As a rule of thumb when welding, start with a shade that is too dark to see the weld zone, then go to a lighter shade which gives sufficient view of the weld zone without going below the minimum.  When a worker wears eyewear equipped with filter lenses under a welding helmet, the shade number of the lens in the helmet may be reduced. The combined shade numbers of the tinted helmet lens and tinted the eyewear can be added together. This number will then identify the combined level of protection provided. As previously stated, all protective eye and face devices must comply with ANSI Z87.1, Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face.

1OSHA Fact Sheet – Eye Protection against Radiant Energy during Welding and Cutting in Shipyard Employment

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