As the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes, during November many people participate in campaigns to raise money for various causes by growing out their facial hair. But if your job requires a tight fitting respirator, many different facial hair styles are a no-go.
The graphic above (produced by NIOSH) highlights dozens of facial hair styles and if they would interfere with a proper respirator seal. A respirator needs to seal tightly against the face, or else harmful gases, vapors, or particles can enter the lungs.
According to NIOSH, some studies have shown that even a day or two of stubble can reduce the protection that a respirator provides. Facial hair under the seal can cause causes 20 to 1000 times more leakage compared to clean-shaven individuals.
But this graphic should only be used as a guide. A respiratory fit test needs to be performed to ensure that a respirator fits a worker properly. Our team of experts here at SCT conduct hundreds of fit tests each year to help keep our clients safe on the job.
Respiratory protection has received a renewed focus in workplace safety with the updated silica standard in construction going into effect in September 2017. Check out our video below to learn a bit more about silica protection and what to expect from a respiratory fit test.