Expert Insights, Respiratory Protection Series - No. 3

RPE and beards – how to ensure that face fit is no longer an issue.

Pre-covid, the percentage of British men sporting a beard had already grown to 42% and the effect of lockdown and home working has dramatically increased that figure in the years since. But were you aware that a beard can significantly limit the protection offered by many types of respiratory protection?

Protecting the respiratory health of workers with beards has long been a contentious issue due to the issues with ensuring a good face fit when there is facial hair. The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention even tried publicising a facial-hair-graphic to show medical staff exactly where on their face they should ensure they were clean shaven. Many businesses and organisations have resorted to asking their staff to be clean shaven to avoid the issue.

The problem businesses face is that even short stubble can reduce the effectiveness of a tight-fitting mask. To achieve the best protection with respiratory protective equipment requiring face fitting the skin should be freshly shaven.

Asking people to remove their beards is problematic: Aside from the possibility that there could be significant religious, cultural or medical reasons for keeping it, they may have other good reasons to keep their facial hair and have invested a great deal of time and effort into carefully cultivating their bristles!

But worry no longer, there is an effective solution to ensuring that bearded staff are as well protected from the dangers of occupational lung disease as their clean-shaven counterparts: Powered Air Purifying Respiratory systems (PAPR). These systems allow use of a hood or helmet to cover the face and do not rely on a tight mask face fit. Anchor Safety can advise you on the most appropriate model for your situation and respiratory hazard: Call us on 0800 528 3028 now and we will not only be able to protect your beards but ensure your workers are fully protected from whatever dust, chemical or gas they encounter in their working day. Ordering one of our ready-made powered respiratory kits will allow you to be completely compliant with respiratory regulations in 24 hours.

View our Drager PAPR Kits



Respiratory Protection Solutions

Anchor Safety technical specialists can work with your business with a solutions-oriented approach to inform your respiratory protection strategy. Our range of RPE solutions will enable you to ensure your whole workforce is fully protected from any hazard, whatever their face shape or requirement.

Useful links

Yougov: Beards are growing on the British public
https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2017/03/10/beards-are-growing-british-public

The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: Facial Hairstyles and Filtering Facepiece Respirators.
https://blogs.cdc.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/06/facialhairrespirators_04sn-web.jpg

BBC News: Police Scotland officers ordered to shave off beards.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-65482560

www.nature.com: Assessing the effect of beard hair lengths on face masks...
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41370-021-00337-1

BBC Radio 4: The six reasons beards are everywhere.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1xfl5TG2zTnpBmXDlPMb92g/the-six-reasons-beards-are-everywhere

Expert Insights

Use our Expert Insights below to access our addtional RPE information resources and find out more about the dangers of occupational lung disease and the legislation you need to be aware of.


Respiratory Protection Expert Insights

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