More proof that being clean shaven when wearing RPE is a must!

Pro Safety and Training are the number one provider for face fit testing in Australia. We believe that all workers wearing RPE (respiratory protective equipment) have to be clean shaven as even the slightest stubble can affect the seal.

The following guidance also recommends workers wearing tight fitting face pieces/ masks or RPE:

Just to prove how much of a difference there is we recently conducted a face fit test on a student of our asbestos courses with and without a beard. We found that the mask sealed approximately 13 times better when the wearer was clean shaven.

Details of testing

For the test we considered the following:

  • Student had slight stubble in the first test, and then shaved and conducted the second test
  • Student did not drink or smoke prior to the testing
  • Ambient counts were close in the first and second test
  • The Portacount used has been recently calibrated
  • The first and second test used the same respirator- an SR100 M/L

Test 1:

Despite the student having slight stubble he still passed the test overall fit factor score of 2430. Although this is a pass the student failed one of the individual tests- Head up and Down. As all work involves physical activity and exertion failing in the “head up and down” activity proves to us that the mask does not seal correctly on the face and is unsuitable.

Slight Stubble prior to fit testing.

Fit Testing with slight stubble shows an overall pass, however a fail for “head up and down”

Test 2:

As expected when clean shaven the student passed the fit test with flying colours- a fit factor of 29 400. This is 12 times the fit factor when shaven.

Once clean shaven the test indicates a high level pass.

Our conclusion:

There is no argument- when workers are clean shaven respirators will seal on their face exponentially better, this means less inhalation of contaminants and a safer work environment for workers. To talk with us about face fit testing call 1300 336 003 or contact us.

Leave a Reply