Benefits and Use of Face Shields
There is a lot of talk in the media today about personal protective equipment (PPE) and the ways in which face shields, masks, gloves and other PPE can help to protect against the spread of infection.
What a lot of people fail to consider is how the equipment works. Wearing a face shield can greatly reduce transmission rates of airborne contagions.
Face Shields For Workers on the Frontlines
Face shields are useful in healthcare settings and in other environments where social distancing may not be practical and the wearer is likely to be exposed to members of the public regularly. Many businesses are providing face shields in addition to masks for workers who will spend a lot of time talking to people face-to-face. They act as a wipe-clean barrier against infection, and won't clog up or get contaminated in the way that masks might.
Face shields work well in environments where social distancing is either impossible or difficult to enforce. They can be used on their own, or in addition to a mask for extra protection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published recommendations for face masks, but these were based on N95 masks which are expensive, typically disposable, and hard to use correctly. Face shields can be worn concurrently with other PPE, such as face masks, and may extend the useful life of the additional PPE when worn at the same time.
It is unlikely that a member of the public who is untrained in handling PPE would put on a mask correctly and refrain from touching their face or "adjusting" the mask while it is worn. It's hard to resist tugging at a mask, moving it away to speak, or just trying to make it more comfortable, but every time the mask is touched or moved, its effectiveness is diminished.
Face shields, by comparison, are easy to wear.
Benefits of Wearing a Face Shield
The benefits of wearing a face shield are twofold. Firstly, face shields are more comfortable, so people can simply put them on and, for the most part, forget about them. They can speak and breathe easily, and there is no issue with irritation to the ears, or with getting sweaty. Facial expressions and lip movements are not limited or hindered because of the visibility a face shield provides, proving beneficial in any person to person interaction.
Secondly, shields offer safe and effective protection and are endlessly reusable, requiring they only be wiped clean and disinfected. They prevent most airborne particle spread. When someone coughs, most of the particles will be pulled downwards by gravity before they have traveled more than six feet. Anything that is sprayed towards the wearer's face will likely hit the shield.
Choosing a Face Shield & FDA Regulations
When selecting PPE, it is important to consider the environment in which it will be used. When choosing a face shield, medical workers should ensure that it is FDA registered. The standards that are used by the FDA in the United States and similar regulatory bodies in Europe are strict.
FDA registration is the "gold standard" when vetting the integrity of products.
In non-medical settings, other factors such as comfort and sizing are important. PPE is useful only when it is worn correctly, and essential workers in non-medical settings are often reluctant to wear cumbersome or uncomfortable equipment, even for their own safety.
Buying comfortable medical-grade face shields for your employees or family makes sense.