• Respiratory protection for bearded workers

Air Monitoring

Respiratory protection for bearded workers

Sep 17 2019

Workers in construction, manufacturing, and process industries may be exposed to occupational hazards such as gases, vapours, asbestos, silica dust, wood dusts and welding fumes.

Anyone who breathes in these hazards should realise the health effects and damage they can do to the lungs. Acute and chronic diseases affecting workers are; lung cancers, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

So respiratory protection is required to be worn to help prevent these nasty illnesses.

Whilst there’s an increasing popularity for beards and facial hair, it poses an issue for employers who must provide respiratory protection for their workers.

For operatives with beards and facial hair, it is not possible to effectively use a tight-fitting gas mask, half-mask or any negative pressure respirator because these tight-fitting facepieces will not achieve a seal around the face.

Any facial hair (even stubble) can create a gap between the respiratory mask and the skin, so it won't seal to your face and won't work properly. Even a tiny leak around the edge of the mask will let hazardous air bypass the filter, leaving you exposed.

Employers are moving away from buying disposable masks, reusable half masks, and full-face masks. Facial hair can impede causing the inhalation of hazardous substances at work resulting in serious lung conditions caused by inhaling dust and other contaminants.

In order to overcome this, a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) can be used (with a connecting hose) and a suitable head-top such as a helmet with face shield, hood or visor. The PAPR does not require a face-fit test.

a1-cbiss, one of the UK’s leading providers of specialist products to protect workers from respiratory hazards recommend the 3M Scott Safety Duraflow respirator, which offers a high flow rate of 160 litres per minute and uses the competitively priced, and readily available Pro 2000 filter cartridges. The Duraflow is compatible with a range of hoods available as a ReadyPak for a cost saving. Another of a1-cbiss recommendations is the RPB® PX4 Air®, a robust and versatile PAPR that filters out respirable dusts for 13 hours on a single charge. The PX4 unit is compatible a lightweight shoulder cape with bump hat or welding helmet/visor.


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