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#1 Posted : 07 October 2019 11:35:24(UTC)
Rank: Forum user

Have tried to search this topic, as I am sure I am not the first to ask.

Currently have a round of face fit testing being done for colleagues, basic FFP3 masks are suitable for most of the tasks we perform. Have a number of styles / shapes etc for different face shapes.

However, am currently getting some push back from guys with bears who are refusing to shave, even though they are aware of the risks etc. 

Has anyone else found a solution to this ?

Fully aware that alternative air fed respirators etc are available etc... 

More interested in what other companies have done regarding beards.

Tried to engage with HR to get thier take and they have vanished (again).

Any input gratefully recieved.. (but please, I dont need a lecture on CoSHH etc).

#2 Posted : 07 October 2019 11:54:29(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user

Let us assume that you have gone through the heirachy and have tried to eliminate at source etc. so that we don't get sidetracked. (if you haven't, please do!)

I will be honest with you. Without the support of HR you are going to fight a losing battle on this one. People value their beards much more than their health. Strange but true. Unless you are willing to pay for full face respirators you are going to struggle to ensure you are keeping your workforce safe. You need HR on board so that you can enforce the wearing of FFP3 masks and the "clean shaven" policy that you would require.

On a more pragmatic note. FFP3 masks have many other flaws to consider.

  1. They can only be reasonably worn for around 60 minutes, after that they put too much strain on the user's lungs
  2. Some men (and women too) grow stubble at such a rate that by the end of the shift they are probably not providing a proper seal
  3. You are relying on your workforce to check their mask is fitting properly on each use (and we hate relying on people as a control)
  4. Face fit testing must be carried out everytime you change products, or should an employee lose/gain weight.

This is why LEV etc. is also a much easier option.

thanks 2 users thanked CptBeaky for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 07/10/2019(UTC), bxuxa on 08/10/2019(UTC)
#3 Posted : 07 October 2019 12:58:17(UTC)
Rank: Forum user

Thanks CptBeaky. 

Where we can have LEV we do, elimination at sourse also where practical exists. 

Thanks for you input... I was half expecting that similar lack of HR involvemnt existed elsewhere.

#4 Posted : 07 October 2019 13:13:41(UTC)
Rank: Forum user

As long as there will be "religious reasons" exemptions, you can't readily expect other people to shave. Anyone can claim devout worship of some sorts as an excuse, that's one of the reasons most HR won't touch the subject with a 10 foot pole. I'm kind of fond of my facial hair and although I'm in no way religious, I am petty enough to claim isolation treatment just as the rest do, if pressed.

I rejoice when thinking of the Pastafarians and their spaghetti strainer driving license photos. At some point, people will get fed up in being singled out and will take exception one way or another.

Good luck

thanks 1 user thanked mihai_qa for this useful post.
Mark1969 on 09/10/2019(UTC)
#5 Posted : 07 October 2019 13:53:45(UTC)
Rank: Forum user

You must also consider the other effects of requiring men to shave their beards. Yes there may be an increased likelihood that their respiratory protection fits better but with the beard are lost the powers of strength, courage and endurance that the possession of a full beard bestows on the wearer and you may see an increase in manual handling injuries, fatigue and stress related issues.


#6 Posted : 07 October 2019 18:15:58(UTC)
Rank: Forum user


A client worked on a construction site last year, and the PC had laid down a rule, no face fit test no work on site. He even specified the mask, which was the JSP Force 8 Mask with Press-to-Check Filters. He even installed shaving points around the site for those who had forgotten to shave.

I asked what about those with beards, the client replied, they don't work on the site end of.

Many of my clients ask me what should they do about beards; I said it is their choice, enforce it for all, and use your disciplinary porcedure for those who refuse. His answer to that was "We can't do that"; I asked why not, as the face fit test is a legal requirement; they asked what the alternative was, and I said don't let them do the work that requires a mask; or buy a powered hood or face shield. They decided not to have guys doing the work that needed RPE.

#7 Posted : 07 October 2019 19:29:15(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user

And another take that places H&S as the perceived enemy of those seeking employment.


Sorry to shout but when the clip board clowns employed by clients get challenged and projects do not proceed because realists refuse to adhere to unrealistic rules we may as a profession advance beyond the machinations of the Daily Wail "its elf n safety gone mad"

I am still trying to work out how wellingtons provide any more protection than rigger boots yet the former are permitted track side whilst the latter are not.
thanks 1 user thanked Roundtuit for this useful post.
mihai_qa on 08/10/2019(UTC)
#8 Posted : 08 October 2019 08:02:02(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user

I the construction sector I work in where the hazard comes from dust generated by drilling, I am trying to move more and more towards on-tool dust extraction, to reduce the reliance simply on masks.

A fair portion of the work we do is in lived in accommodation and we don't provide face masks for the tenants, nor do we clean the property sufficiently after the work to ensure that settled dust is removed. I also have issues with how long people keep a mask on after the drilling is done, when the air still contains settling dust.

So air monitoring is planned in both environments. I suspect dust extraction will not be sufficient alone. But I doubt masks alone have ever been sufficient. Too many variables, fit time kept on, effective storgae, timely filter replacements, which a once a year MOT of a face-fit test does little to solve.

Slightly off-topic, but only just. My hope is that we can get extraction that removes the need for RPE, thus allowing our virile workforce all the bushy facial-hair they so heartily desire.

thanks 1 user thanked WatsonD for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 08/10/2019(UTC)
#9 Posted : 08 October 2019 08:52:32(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user

Every time a post regarding disposable masks and beards / shaving comes up, I wonder whether or not disposable masks are just not fit for purpose. Yes, they are liked because they appear cheap, however.

  1. You have to pay in some way shape or form for fit testing (even in house)
  2. Testing once every blue moon doesn’t really do it.
  3. PPE is supposed to accommodate the wearer not the other way around.
  4. People should not be forced to shave if they do not wish.
  5. Some people even if they do shave have discernible stubble by the end of the day (myself included – I go through ties like they are going out of fashion, which I wish they would).
  6. People seem inclined to bypass them / defeat them, in the past I have even seen one with a hole made in it for a cigarette or another who smeared his mask with Vaseline to trap the little particles ( not sure how he thought the air would make it in)
  7. Uncomfortable after a period of time.

The only positive thing about disposable masks is if you are wearing them to protect against something, which will need to be discarded, with the mask (Ie asbestos).

Surely it is time for either elimination of the need or positive pressure masks.


thanks 2 users thanked chris42 for this useful post.
CptBeaky on 08/10/2019(UTC), A Kurdziel on 08/10/2019(UTC)
#10 Posted : 08 October 2019 14:51:01(UTC)
Rank: Forum user

>I am still trying to work out how wellingtons provide any more protection than rigger boots yet the former are permitted track side whilst the latter are not.

Both are banned on Network Rail infrastructure, as they do not provide ankle support when walking on ballast, not to mention pretty uncomfortable after a while.

The only exceptions I know of, are for welders because they are dealing with molten metal so require the appropriate riggers.

thanks 1 user thanked jmaclaughlin for this useful post.
Mark1969 on 09/10/2019(UTC)
#11 Posted : 09 October 2019 10:34:13(UTC)
Rank: Forum user

Thanks all, its a hardy perennnial for safety professionals.

There are many characters that I have worked with over the years that have suffered later in life, I have used this in the training that I have given over the years, to remind people that COPD etc isn't pretty (both parents from smoking) etc, but still find that I end up scratching my head with a 30 something with a young family who thinks his beard is more important that me trying to protect him from silica et al.

I would love to be able to use extraction in every case, where its possible and practical its readily available, tested and the guys are trained to use it etc. I have adapted other controls in preference for face masks.

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