Check the Faceshield in Your ASTM F2178 Arc Flash Hood

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Check the Faceshield in Your ASTM F2178 Arc Flash Hood

Question on PPE

We recently became aware of a worksite which was auditing a contractor’s PPE for compliance to NFPA 70E and OSHA 1910 standards. A contractor was using the pictured arc flash safety hood. At first glance, it appeared a mistake had been made by the manufacturer inserting a 25 cal/cm² faceshield into a 40 cal/cm² arc-rated hood.

After talking with the contractor, the site electrical safety officer, who had discovered the improper label, found on her investigation that the contractor had inadvertently purchased the hoods without faceshields and then received 25 cal/cm² shields instead of the required 40 cal/cm² shields. Since no one knew to check, the 25 cal/cm² shields were installed in the 40 cal/cm² hoods. As a result of the find, several other arc flash hoods were found to be improperly assembled and underrated.

ArcWear Test Lab, the leading arc rating company in the US, was asked about this manufacturer and found a few manufacturers who had in the past sold hoods without faceshields as compliant with ASTM F1506 but NOT tested to ASTM F2178 as would be required by the hood assembly (both of the manufacturers stated they did not do this now). This is not a recommended practice. All faceshield and hood assemblies are required to be tested to ASTM F2178 as the product is sold. Hoods that only have labels for F1506 have not been tested as an assembly and are relying on the test data of the fabric alone.

One person contacted about this article felt that faceshields should not be removable.  We don’t agree; faceshields that can be replaced are important to prevent having to purchase a whole new hood when a faceshield is scarred or old.  We recommend replacing shields every 2-5 years.

But manufacturers could consider making different level shields with a different attachment method or something to make them either not fit properly or a means of alerting the end user when replacing with the wrong part.  The label was clear, and a competent person should have caught the mistake.

Never replace a shield with an underrated shield or any shield which is not specifically tested with the proper assembly. Purchase replacement shields from the OEM so you receive the right shield when making a replacement.


  1. Always check PPE labels.
  2. Purchase from reputable dealers, even online.
  3. If it is too cheap to be true, it is probably not true.
  4. Check your contractor’s PPE just like you check your employees’ PPE.
  5. Train your qualified persons on how to check their PPE.

Need an onsite audit to check your safety program and PPE for compliance to OSHA and NFPA 70E? Contact e-Hazard.

If you ever question your PPE, take pictures and e-mail us at

If you have a question about electrical safety and standards, ask us here OR on our forum!

Hugh Hoagland

does research and testing of PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Hugh is a Sr. Consultant at ArcWear and Sr. Partner at e-Hazard. Read more about Hugh.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Chuck orton

    Excellent, thanks for pointing this out!

  2. Avatar
    Rodney Potter

    This should have been caught by the person using the PPE it’s first time out. This is why daily, before use, inspections are so important.

  3. Avatar
    Ruben Larez

    This happened on a jobsite I worked on and I talk about this scenario in all my classes. Something looked strange on the arc hoods of the two apprentices that were feeding the parallel feed on a wire pull. After the wire pull we took a break and I discovered both of them were not protected at 40 cal/cm² because the arc hoods had 12 cal/cm² face shields on them! Someone had applied a Velcro loop on the 12 cal face shields to match them to the Velcro hook on the 40 cal arc hoods. Aside from not having the proper level of protection they didn’t have a proper seal around the face shield which creates an entry point for the arc flash in the event one would happen.

    Our lab also provides a cleaning & inspection service for arc flash suits and issues like these come up more often than one can imagine. If you haven’t been trained to recognize this or you don’t know how to don your electrical PPE then you’re probably not qualified, you weren’t trained properly or you need retraining.

    Always inspect your PPE and only buy the manufacturer’s recommended replacement face shield. Not all arc hoods are made the same. If you order a face shield and the hook&loop is not the same as the one you needed, that’s a red flag. If the arc hood doesn’t have a proper seal around the face shield, that’s a red flag. If the arc rating on the the face shield is not equal to or greater than the arc hoods arc rating, that’s a red flag.

    And as always this reminder, it’s called electriCAL training not electriCIAN training. If employees are exposed to electrical hazards greater than 50 volts then they need training. This goes for the HVAC tech troubleshooting ELECTRIC air handlers and ELECTRIC condensers or the plumber (yes, the plumber) measuring voltage at a 480v 3ph OCPD or disconnect switch feeding ELECTRIC water heaters. All workers exposed to electrical hazards can be electrocuted, shocked or burned from an arc flash and sent to the hospital just like an electrician can.

  4. Avatar

    Good afternoon, I have a query

    In the definition of ASTM-F2178: 2018 it says that this test method does NOT consider the Hood fabric, however on this page and on others, the manufacturers determine the Arc (ATPV) classification as “all” and not only the Shield Facial, is it correct that way?

    This test can certify the product as a garment or as it is only a test

    What would be the correct labeling for this Standard?


  5. Hugh Hoagland
    Hugh Hoagland

    There is no ASTM-2178: 2018 but the 2017b standard says the following in the scope.
    “1.3.1 Fabric layers used in the design of face protection products such as in hood, neck guards, balaclava, shall meet the requirements of Specification F1506. When fabrics are designed into the protection provided for eye or face protective products, the arc rating of fabric system shall be determined first by Test Method F1959/F1959M.
    1.3.2 The arc rating of the eye or face protective product which requires fabric to provide protection to the face or head will not be higher than the lower arc rating of either the fabric
    system or the shield/visor assembly.”
    Being the chair of the task group that writes this standard I can tell you our intent is that if the hood test HIGHER than the fabric, the fabric rating is the maximum. If the hood tests lower than the fabric, then the hood rating rules. The hood MUST be tested as sold. Testing fabric and using a different hood’s test even with the same facepiece does not comply. The new standard makes testing a hood system easier and less costly because it understands that MOST hood systems are limited to the rating of the fabric so 20+ tests are not required. If the 8 samples (6 minimum) are tested at a level required above the arc rating of the fabric, the hood can receive an Arc Rating Limit (ARLIM) of the fabric rating. The standard also adds a higher level ignition test to assure the shield or hood does not catastrophically fail at a reasonable level greater than the arc rating.

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