What is a face shield?

A face shield is a transparent piece of shatterproof plastic that is worn over the face and covers the forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks and chin. They are held in place by a cap or a strap that wraps around the head. Face shields can be disposable or reusable but reusable face shields are more common because they can be used multiple times after being properly washed and sterilized. They are generally worn in combination with other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure effective protection against potentially infectious particulates.

In Canada, face shields used in healthcare are class I medical devices much like other medical PPE. When it comes to face shields, Health Canada recommends the standards set by The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) for guidance in design and testing. Manufacturers must take into account a number of specifications including ensuring a snug fit of the head strap while preventing slippage and using materials that make the shield optically clear and anti-fog. Penguin Health offers reusable face shields manufactured in Canada that are breathable, anti-fog and anti-dust, and meet the standards and certifications for distribution in both the U.S. and Canada.

Why should you use a face shield with your PPE?

When worn by healthcare workers as part of their PPE in combination with face masks and isolation gowns, face shields offer added protection to the wearer against the spray and splatter of bodily fluids that can potentially carry harmful agents. They offer more extensive coverage of the face than do face masks and goggles, protecting more areas of the face from contaminants, including the eyes. This added protection is essential for healthcare workers during this pandemic as they are unable to socially distance from their patients and are constantly at risk of being exposed to the virus and other infectious diseases. Face shields can also enhance the protection of patients from exposure to potentially harmful respiratory droplets from the wearer. They can even potentially extend the useful life of face masks that are worn with them by blocking a significant amount fluid particulates before they reach the mask. In general, face shields have their limits when used on their own but when combined with other PPE they can significantly improve protection against infectious diseases.

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