Covid Shop Safety Protocol & PPE

In hopes that we may be physically on campus this school year, we feel the need to update our shop safety protocol given the Covid-19 situation. Wearing a mask is a must on campus and in our shop but safety glasses tend to fog up when the two are worn at the same time. Since both are absolutely necessary we are trying to find an option that serves as eye protection and a mask for the mouth and nose that does not compromise safety in either area.

Here are some options we are considering:
This is a Kickstarter campaign for a full face polycarbonate shield that is worn like safety glasses, covers the whole face, and can be worn with a mask
(These are more expensive than typical face masks and are not available immediately)
This is a face mask that also covers the eyes
(the clear film is not as thick as typical safety gasses and may not be safe enough without safety glasses on top)
This is a full face polycarbonate face shield
(It is a bit bulky since it is worn around the head and more expensive than typical PPE)
This is a light full face shield
(the film may be too thin for adequate eye protection)

We would appreciate any ideas and recommendations regarding COVID/shop PPE. We are planning on acquiring more tools to minimize contact and require hand and tool sanitization upon entering the shop and using tools and equipment. Hopefully, we will have a build season and we would like to be as prepared as possible for a smooth and safe season.

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Only the third one claims to be Z87.1 certified, so it’s the only one appropriate to replace safety glasses.


Raygear makes some fantastic shields (tried on a few different kinds at a machine shop) and they happen to produce this non-vented version, if you can find it in stock.

It is interesting, but I think mask plus glasses is not too much a problem. The biggest lesson is to have a mask with metal strip that you can squeeze gently to conform to you nose, and to do that. After that, it generally is not an issue. Also, maybe get the glasses with an anti-fogging coating.

I’d probably keep flimsy or uncertified face shields out of the shop. They are okay for sneeze guards in higher traffic areas, and are good behavior modifiers for not touching your face, but they aren’t really the eye protection you want and may be misleading in that regard.


I’ve heard that rubbing soap on glasses can help keep them fog-free for several hours, that may be enough to keep them usable for the time of a shop meeting.
I’d recommend giving every team member a set of their own safety glasses (or face shield) that they can bring to each meeting rather than having a group safety glasses bin to help ensure the safety glasses/face shields are sanitary.
I would also say that if you can (I noticed your team is from LA which has a warm climate), wheel some tools outside to build, as most of the spread from covid comes from airborne aerosols, and building outdoors seems to reduce the concentration of aerosols significantly when compared to indoor environments.

Good luck building robots!


I’m aware outdoor activities significantly reduce the concentration (and thus rate of transmission) but I’ve never such an exact number put to it. Do you have a source for this claim?

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Whoopsy daisy, I can’t quite find a source for the 18:1 figure.
I’ve edited my original post to reflect that.
Thanks for keeping me accountable.

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The CDC and OSHA have extensive guidance for employers operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lots of good information on this page: COVID-19 Guidance: Businesses and Employers | CDC


I don’t have a lot of issues keeping my safety glasses (or my sunglasses) clear. It’s that metal strip on the nose that helps.

If I was going to go overboard–and bear in mind that I’d leave this part up to the students to decide if they wanted to do this–a full-face respirator, safety-rated shield with dust-only filters (could also use organics filters) and a cloth covering for the outlet (you make that last one) would be a relatively inexpensive option (~$200 each at McMaster plus extra filters). Downside is that you can’t talk through them easily–and they need to fit properly. Other downside is that they’re likely to be harder to find these days.

If I was really going to go overboard, a PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator) is between 5 and 10 times the cost of a full-face respirator but has the outlet already covered and is somewhat easier to talk through. But, that would be seriously overboard. (I’ve used them before. They’re awesome if they’re available. But they’re overkill for FRC.)

I just had an eye exam yesterday and they used tape to seal the cloth mask to my nose so my glasses wouldn’t fog up. Don’t know what type of tape it was.

4096, Ctrl-Z, has been making several different face shield versions. The visors (clear parts) are all cut on our Velox 5050 while the frames of the UIUC design are also fabricated on the CNC router. We can cut about 70 of the UIUC frames in 4 hours.
The Deere clips can be 3D printed relatively quickly.
We were part of the team that helped with the UIUC design; our version is not as wide or tall as the official design as the official design was specifically made for health care workers. Face Shields | COVID-PPE | U of I
In all cases, the clear visors are 0.020 PETG.
Our cost on all of these is about $3.00 and we have donated nearly 700 to date.
FWIW, our plan is to have team members wear face masks and safety glasses; our local public health department won’t allow face shields without face masks.
If you are interested in some of these, let me know.


I feel the need to reiterate a point made earlier in this thread.

There are face shields that are designed to help mitigate the spread of infectious disease. The face shields you designed meet that requirement, but do not replace the purpose of face masks.

There are face shields designed to serve as eye protection in a shop environment. The face shields you designed are NOT tested and rated to meet that requirement.

These face shields are a very useful tool in helping keep our medical professional’s PPE stores stocked, and perhaps even shielding some of the “civilian” populace from catching COVID. You should be commended for making them. But they are not the appropriate PPE for a shop environment.

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I agree with others that the fogging shouldn’t be an issue if there’s no gap between mask and face at the nose-bridge area. This can be accomplished by using masks with a metal strip that you form to your face (I’ve never had fogging problems with N-95s), or by attaching the top of the mask to your face (I’ve heard white medical tape works well).

Along with that warning, I’d reiterate that face shields aren’t substitutes for masks. It’s made me hesitant to fulfill the few requests I get for face shields because I think too many people don’t understand this.

Now I do think there is a potential for a face shield sans mask to reduce viral load and in effect how sick someone might get. But my current understanding gives me no confidence that a face shield would prevent someone from getting sick, where proper two-way mask wearing does.

The same applies to sneeze guard or dividers. I saw some people suggesting classroom desk dividers instead of masks. Barriers like this and face shields are second level protections that can be in addition to masks.


Generally speaking, face shields can be worn in addition to glasses/goggles, but not instead of them. They typically do not fit closely to the face and so garbage can easily get inside of the face shield and bounce into the wearer’s face and eyes.

Beyond that, face shields are there to stop droplets from landing on a person’s face. If everyone else is wearing a mask (and they should be) the face shield is a bit redundant, though arguably still helpful if others’ masks are not effective.

Viruses may be active on these shields for days. They need to be frequently sanitized and you should consider your hands ‘dirty’ after touching your face shield.


There are many, many, many solutions to this problem.

Any mask worth wearing should have a metal strip in it to conform to the nose. This fixes the problem for the majority of users.

If you need additional protection, here are some things to try:

  • Use a strip of medical tape to hold the mask top down on the face
  • Wear the mask higher up (just under the eyes) and then place the glasses nose bridge on top of the mask, pinching it down. You may need chums to keep your safety glasses from sliding off though.
  • Some recommend using a tissue inside the mask to pad the area around the nose bridge

From a different direction then @Chris_is_me suggests (which is valid, of course)…

Anti-fog wipes for glasses are widely available and inexpensive. You can even use plain dish soap and a few other household items as an inexpensive anti-fog agent. SCUBA divers and snorkelers do not have the benefit of air circulation and they have managed to solve this problem.

I am a big fan of anti-fog treatments for safety glasses. I used to spend a lot of time in my work’s clean rooms wearing a mask, hood, and full bunny suit all day. I also did this with a face shield sometimes for certain pieces of equipment. It works.

My diving instructor’s recommendation: spit! Spit on the inside of your dive mask, rub it around and rinse (without rubbing). Works pretty well for anti-fog. Of course, not too sanitary in the shop.

That does work, and is what I’ve used in a diving mask more than once. I did not mention it for sanitation reasons, as you point out. :slight_smile:

Put another way, if an N95 mask is fogging your glasses then it isn’t being worn correctly. The air is escaping the top rather then being filtered.