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A close shave

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  SafetyUser 7 years, 2 months ago.

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    Do your workforce wear tight fitting respirators? If so, how do you make they are always clean shaven before fitting it? Can this be difficult to manage?

    • This topic was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by  SafetyUser.


    We have a number of respirators available for staff to use and face fit testing takes place to ensure that there are no incompatibilities. Staff are booked in for face fit testing and one of the conditions of testing is that they arrive for their appointment cleanly shaven. Their manager is involved in the booking of the appointments to ensure that staff follow correct procedures.




    We too recently invited RPE users for their face fit sessions and requested that they attend clean shaven. This resulted in a barrage of questions along the lines of would we expect those with religious beliefs (who grow their hair as part of their religion) to be clean shaven also and so as you can imagine this became rather awkward. We don’t currently have any employees with such beliefs but the question was raised the same.

    Has anyone else encountered this problem?



    3M Rob Pearson

    Hi ncheetham,

    When conducting RPE / Fit Testing Training – this is a common question. When an RPE has facial hair for religious reasons – there are two options. 1. Remove from the hazardous environment or 2. Use a Powered Air Respirator. By using Powered Air this uses headtops / hoods where the respiratory seal is not around the face and thus they can have a beard and still be protected from the various contaminants. It is also worthy of note that no fit-testing is required if a Powered Air Respirator is used.

    Hope this helps!




    Hi Nicky,

    Thank you for your question. To add to Rob’s comments, the increase in fit testing in recent years has reminded and/or educated many wearers of tight fitting respirators about the need for them to be clean-shaven. This is not a new requirement linked to fit testing, it has always been the case, but fit testing has certainly raised awareness. Where users of tight fitting respirators are unable to be clean-shaven loose fitting devices should be considered. This is covered in the HSE’s guidance. See paragraph 110 of http://www.hse.gov.uk/foi/internalops/ocs/200-299/282_28.pdf and table 3 of http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg53.pdf

    The brochure here: http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebserver?mwsId=66666UgxGCuNyXTtnxfE5XfEEVtQEcuZgVs6EVs6E666666–&fn=Versaflo%20P&SA%20Brochure%20CHPSABROC contains information on 3M loose fitting devices

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