The importance of being clean shaven when wearing respiratory equipment or disposable masks
Recently, an employee at one of my clients turned up for a face fit test for a half mask he needs to wear for some of the tasks he does in his job. The face-fitter refused to do it because he had a full beard and moustache.
There is a valid reason for this, and one that should also be followed if ever wearing the mask that the face-fitting relates to. Tight-fitting respiratory equipment and disposable masks will only provide effective protection if the wearer is clean shaven.
Under no circumstances can a face fit test be carried out on anyone who is not clean shaven, including the full removal of stubble.
Being clean shaven on a daily basis is the only way to ensure that the mask is providing the wearer with an adequate seal and doing the job it is intended for. Without a suitable seal, there is no protection against the wearer breathing in unwanted dusts, fumes or other substances.
If you have been fitted for a mask or respirator, then it is vitally important that you are clean shaven when wearing that mask or respirator. You may be refused the right to work that day by your supervisor, by the site manager, or by a regulator such as the HSE. You may also lose your job if you refuse to shave.
Designer stubble, a trimmed beard or full beard are not allowed when wearing RPE or masks. You must be clean shaven.