Facial hair can interfere with respirator fit during both fit testing and actual respirator use. The infographic illustrates facial hairstyles such as handlebar or pencil mustaches that do not interfere with respirator fit and styles like stubble or full beards that do. Men with facial hair styles such as beards, sideburns, and certain mustaches can experience 20 to 1, times more leakage when wearing respirators when compared with clean-shaven individuals, according to NIOSH. Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA regulations, employers may not allow employees to wear respirators if they have facial hair that comes between the face and the sealing surface of a facepiece respirator 29 CFR Facial hair can prevent a proper respirator seal, eliminating any protection a respirator might provide, regardless of its filtration capabilities. Employers repeatedly have asked OSHA about the respirator protection standard, and every time, the agency has reiterated that employers may not allow employees with facial hair or other conditions that could prevent a tight facial seal to use tight-fitting respirators.
NIOSH updates position on facial hair, respirator use
Updated NIOSH Guidance - Respirators and Facial Hair | Environmental Resource Center
Fit testing employees with beards is a frustration that NPPTL often hears about from its stakeholders. How important is your choice of facial hair if you wear a respirator on the job? According to Cichowicz, the presence of facial hair under the sealing surface—think some beards, sideburns, and some mustaches—causes 20 to 1, times more leakage compared to clean-shaven individuals. NPPTL has received great feedback from its stakeholders who have shared that they use the infographic during respiratory protection training. Even some ski patrol members, a workforce known for their beards, have cited the infographic as a go-to resource, reported by the New York Times external icon. Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options Skip directly to A-Z link.
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