Could facial hair be a Health and Safety issue?
The answer is yes, if you, or your employees, wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) in the course of normal work activities. Recent research by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that after just 24 hours of not shaving, a worker’s health and safety could be compromised.
It’s a mistake many businesses make. HSE Inspectors routinely find workers wearing their protective masks over a bit of facial hair, even though the advice is to be clean-shaven in the area of the mask seal. But how dangerous could a bit of designer stubble be?
Well, the researchers took 15 male volunteers, and carried face fit tests out on them immediately after shaving and six times during the following week, without further shaving.
The results showed that protection could be significantly reduced where stubble was present, beginning within 24 hours from shaving, and generally worsening as facial hair grew. Statistical analysis predicted this could reach an unacceptable level for all of the masks tested.
So the advice about being clean-shaven needs to be followed. That means a worker needs to have shaved within 8 hours of beginning their shift. And if workers have permanent facial hair, special adapted masks need to be used.
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