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Banning beards to tackle poorly fitting dust masks
Recently this article on site health & safety concerns about the fitting of dust mask’s caught the attention of the E5 team, – was a blanket ban on beards really necessary?
As Evolution5’s Health and Safety co-ordinator and beard fan himself, here’s what Darryn Harrison had to say about it.
This is quite possibly an example of standardisation gone a little bit mad.
I do understand that if working in particularly dangerous and dusty environments, such as with asbestos, the recommendation is to be clean shaven as the dust masks do leak around a beard. However as the article states there are different types of dust mask which can work with a beard. And in any case the fit of any mask can be tested with a simple spray test like we did at Times Square.
Considering it is a company responsibility to provide PPE, it appears that the company is looking for a blanket approach that will enable them to purchase a single type of dust mask, probably making it cheaper and easier to manage. However, there are options for beards and a test can confirm the effectiveness depending on the beard and resulting fit of the mask.
It’s often interesting to hear Health & Safety cited as the reason a company cannot do something, or needs to ban a particular practice.
If you come up against a H&S issue on your project, it is always a good idea to take professional advice to understand the bigger picture and find the most relevant, proportionate approach.