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Beards and Respiratory Protection: A Tricky Mix

Beards and Respiratory Protection: A Tricky Mix

proper equipmentRespiratory equipment is necessary for work sites that deal with hazardous air conditions and harmful airborne chemicals, especially in projects like asbestos removals or underground construction projects. As with all personal protective equipment (PPE), proper use of respiratory equipment involves undergoing the complete process of hazard identification, risk assessment and control measure implementation.

 

Knowledge of the respiratory equipment, how it works and how it is worn are all mandatory to ensure safety in the workplace. However, there are still other conditions that can hinder the effectiveness of the equipment. Interestingly, one of these factors is the presence of facial hair and beards.

 

Why Do Beards and Facial Hair Matter?

 

Respiratory safety equipment like masks and respirators prevent the inhalation of particles and gases that can cause small triggers like allergic reactions or severe hazards like chemical poisoning. To ensure closed systems where only air passing through the purifying filter can reach the nose and mouth, workers need to undergo proper face fit testing.

 

While most respiratory equipment can accommodate varying facial shapes and contours, the presence of beards and facial hair might present irregularities that can cause gaps and incomplete seals in the air system, causing leakage of contaminants. In New Zealand, for example, beards, moustaches, sideburns and stubble are identified as potential obstructions for satisfactory sealing.

 

Fashion Trend, Workplace Hazard

 

Ideally, the mismatch of beards and respiratory equipment should apply only to the hyper-specific demographic of bearded men working in sites that deal with hazardous air conditions. However, the trend of beards and facial hair in the last few years, which has contributed to a grooming industry worth $500m annually, has made matters more complicated and more urgent.

 

In the UK, for example, a construction firm last year enforced a ban against beards and other facial hair inciting immediate criticism from within its employee base and workers’ unions. While the company anchored its stance on the effectiveness of tight-fitting dust masks, complaints were made on the basis of personal, religious and cultural reasons.

 

The Need for Ergonomic Safety Equipment

 

The case of beards and facial hair points to the importance of well-designed, ergonomic safety equipment that can accommodate a diverse range of users and workers. Whether for disposable masks or heavy-duty respiratory kits, all safety measures need to strike a balance between performance and comfort, ensuring that workers can perform their tasks without sacrificing safety or impinging on their personal preferences. This balance allows companies and businesses to comply with nation-wide safety standards without alienating their employees.

 

Trusted Suppliers of Personal Protective Equipment

 

At Maxisafe, we offer a comprehensive catalogue of ergonomic PPE that can match a wide range of industrial applications and needs. We are a highly reputable and trusted supplier of protection solutions, catering to industries such as agriculture, mechanical engineering and chemical manufacturing. We meet the quality standards of multiple countries, allowing us to have a global distribution market for our safety products. Our catalogue includes equipment for hand protection, face protection, hearing protection, footwear, and back support. With Maxisafe, you can count on performance paired with an adherence to health and safety regulations.

 

Invest in safety now. Call us on 1300 062 947 or send us an enquiry at https://maxisafe.com.au/contact-us/.