No-Shave November has become a movement for men to ditch their razors in order to grow out their beards (or their mo’s) in order to raise awareness for cancer. But if you’re required to wear a tight-fitting respirator at work — it’s important to always have a clean shave (even in November).
Having a tight-fitting respirator is crucial for effective protection against hazardous gases, vapors, and particles in the air. Facial hair such as beards, mustaches, and sideburns can interfere with protection and are a common reason that someone cannot be fit tested.
Studies have shown that even a day or two of stubble can begin to reduce effective protection. Facial hair underneath a sealing surface can cause 20 to 1000 times more leakage than being clean shaven. That’s why some workers can’t actively participate in No-Shave November.
What OSHA Says
The OSHA respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134) requires that employees are to be fit tested prior to the initial use of a respirator, as well as when a different respirator (in size, style, model or make) is used. Also, another test that is often overlooked is the user seal check.
A worker should perform a user seal check every time they wear a respirator (How To Perform a Respirator Seal Check).
There are two simple ways for an employee to perform their own seal check:
For a positive pressure user seal check – exhale gently while blocking areas where air could escape. In a successful check, the facepiece will become slightly pressurized before increased pressure causes outward leakage.
For a negative pressure user seal check, inhale sharply while blocking the other paths where air could enter the facepiece. During a successful check, the facepiece will slightly collapse under the negative pressure created.
Get Your Stickers, Show Your Support!
Are you part of the “Must-Shave November” club, but you still want to support the No-Shave November cause? Contact us today, and we will send you a sticker to wear on your uniform or hardhat!
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Are you looking for a way to keep your team safe, while also limiting risk and increasing production? Simplify your medical plan today. We help team leaders like you develop less disruptive, more convenient occupational health plans that comply with complex industry standards, thus creating a healthier, more productive workforce. Take control of your medical testing program.