• Stuart Keer-Keer
    32
    With low unemployment the demand for skilled and unskilled people is high. Often we ask companies "Do you have a shaving policy?" No - if we required staff to be clean shaven we would not get any staff in the current environment. We are struggling to find staff now.

    So there are a bunch of folk out there with various stages of facial hair using a mask to give them protection.

    What to do - manage the hazard so they don't need masks. But what if that is not reasonably practicable?
  • Steve H
    237
    What sort of mask Stuart? What is the hazard being minimized by the use of PPE?



    pm639qklvfjznvjw.png
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    32
    The most common ones are wood dust - such as joiners and other types of fabrication in factories and engineering workshops (welding and grinding.) There are a bunch of others, it is a long list. Mostly they are inside a building. The hazard predominantly is particulate (respirable, inhalable, black carbon, diesel, wood) and other hazards from welding fumes.
  • Peter Bateman
    232
    Is WorkSafe's Life Shavers campaign getting any traction, do you think?
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    32
    It is a great resource and good message. It is a pearl, but it is still hidden in the bottom of the ocean.
  • KeithH
    100
    Often we ask companies "Do you have a shaving policy?"Stuart Keer-Keer
    Stuart, consider why a policy would be necessary given this particular one is aimed at PPE. Would it be more beneficial to consider a policy that has strategic benefits for management and home-life benefits for workers?

    Rather than focusing on compliance would improvements to productivity be easier to sell? Engagement and participation are options. Suggestions rather than impositions. Listen to what is not said.

    Because it is the law often creates the very barriers that need to be removed. Thinking outside the box may be the path to consider.

    Just my ramblings
  • Steve H
    237
    Maybe investigate if there is a problem before trying to fix it, I've had a beard for 30 plus years and not had a problem getting a seal with the half face masks that I've used.

    Fit and seal testing

    Regardless of what facial hair an employee does or doesn’t have, it’s essential that all RPE is fit tested before use.

    The Standard AS/NZS 1715:2009 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment describes two types of respirator fit tests—qualitative and quantitative—that can be used to determine an adequate match between the face piece of the RPE and face of the wearer.

    Worksafe Queensland describes the two types of fit testing as:

    Qualitative—a pass/fail test that relies on the wearer’s ability to taste or smell a test agent. This type of test can be used on half-face respirators.
    Quantitative—uses specialised equipment to measure how much air leaks into the respirator. This type of test can be used on half-face and full-face respirators.

    The standard states that one of the fit tests should be done before the respirator is used and then at least once a year, or when there is a change that could affect the seal.
    Prochoice Safety Gear
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    32
    The standards specifically say if a person is not clean shaven do not do the fit test. I am sure a number of people may pass a fit test without a clean shave. That maybe on one day. Three days later with three days more growth they may not pass. If people could pass unshaven like the red sea opening a path to success would be found.
  • Steve H
    237
    Put Gladwrap over the intake filters, and tell the test subject to breath normally, if they go blue, they have a pretty good seal, if they keel over they have a perfect seal, at this point remove the Gladwrap. :razz:

    For the most part, air and anything it contains is going to take the line of least resistance, so keeping the prefilters and filters clean should make getting a perfect seal unnecessary

    What to do - manage the hazard so they don't need masks. But what if that is not reasonably practicable?Stuart Keer-Keer
    Guess if you can't shave em, you either redeploy em, or after consultation and due process, sack em
  • Steve H
    237
    Qualitative—a pass/fail test that relies on the wearer’s ability to taste or smell a test agent. This type of test can be used on half-face respirators. — SteveH

    Probably should have added, the point of doing this test for someone with a beard is not to prove how good the seal is that they are getting, it's to give them some evidence of how bad the seal is that they are getting. Providing an opening to have a discussion on why having a daily shave might be in their best interest.
  • MattD2
    253
    The most common ones are wood dust - such as joiners and other types of fabrication in factories and engineering workshops (welding and grinding.) There are a bunch of others, it is a long list. Mostly they are inside a building. The hazard predominantly is particulate (respirable, inhalable, black carbon, diesel, wood) and other hazards from welding fumes.Stuart Keer-Keer
    What to do - manage the hazard so they don't need masks. But what if that is not reasonably practicable?Stuart Keer-Keer

    What has been considered so far to minimize the dusts, etc. and the reasons for these not being reasonably practical? Remembering that legally the duty is to minimise the risk and then provide other administrative controls and PPE if there is any remaining risk.
    From the description of workshop type environments I would have assumed some form of local exhaust ventilation (LEV) would be able to be implemented, if not a fixed central system then the provision of a suitable number of portable LEV units. Also if beards are an issue then going to a positive pressure / powered RPE might be needed - most are full face masks but sometimes this is an added benefit as the can also incorporate other PPE requirements (eye protection, hearing protection, hard hat, welding, etc.) - they can be costly though
  • Steve H
    237
    The most common ones are wood dust - such as joiners and other types of fabrication in factoriesStuart Keer-Keer

    Thing is Matt, any joinery shop machining MDF isn't going to be able to suck all the dust being generated by either using centralized vacuum systems, LEVs or a mixture of both. The use of positive pressure RPEs seemed a logical way to deal with the problem
  • MattD2
    253
    Thing is Matt, any joinery shop machining MDF isn't going to be able to suck all the dust being generated by either using centralized vacuum systems, LEVs or a mixture of both. The use of positive pressure RPEs seemed a logical way to deal with the problemSteve H
    Yeah that is one issue with how the Hierarchy of Controls is written in the legislation - if you can't eliminate you must (SFARP) substitute or isolate the hazard, or use engineering controls (have to do at least one). Then once you've done that if there is still a risk put in place admin controls to further minimise the risk (SFARP) and then minimise any remaining risk (no reference to SFARP in this one) by providing PPE.
    issue is there is this is very linear and doesn't go back and confirm if what was done in a previous steps is now still relevant with the addition of a later step - example in this case, Stuart could go and spend $60k buying 6 portable LEV to manage the MDF dust at the source (a reasoanbly practicable requirement), but (as you said) not all the dust will be captured so there is still a need to (after providing suitable training of course) provide his workers with RPE. But now even disposable P2 masks could be considered reasonably practicable as it is just the last little bit of dust so these are used. Now they could have also provided pressurised RPE but after that $60k spent on LEV there isn't another $20-30k to spend on providing each worker with one... so P2 disposables it is.
    But if we look back and reevaluate the original decision of the LEV purchase considering the later decision for P2s or pressurised RPE that decision to purchase LEV starts looking less optimal with all things considered...
    Maybe if we claim that providing presurised RPE is essentially individually isolating each worker from the hazard, or is in itself an engineering control! :rofl:
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    32
    How many schools, joinery shops, builders making things are out there with a wood working operation. They are running the business close to the wire. Ideally they will manage the risk through ventilation - extraction and dilution.

    Now the real world, they cannot afford to do it. They are going to be highly resistant to do anything. It adds a bit overhead onto their business and Billy down the road does not have to and can do the work cheaper. So they will use masks, clean shaven or not.

    KeithH said
    Engagement and participation are options. Suggestions rather than impositions. Listen to what is not said.

    This seems a simple solution that if done right seems like an option worth exploring. Yet how many people still drive around with their seat belt undone, or talking on the cell phone.

    Are they better to wear a mask with a beard, not fit tested than no mask? What happens in other countries where the regulator is more severe?
  • Steve H
    237
    Are they better to wear a mask with a beard, not fit tested than no mask?Stuart Keer-Keer

    Just because the Standard says you shouldn't do a fit test Stuart, doesn't mean you can't, someone puts on a few extra Kg, or has a couple of teeth out, or their beard grows a bit, all of these things could change the fit they are getting with their current mask, and make it worthwhile finding out how good/bad it is..
  • KeithH
    100
    @Stuart Keer-Keer
    It's not possible for people to change or make alterations unless they want to.
    As a consultant, you can only advise, recommend or suggest. Responsibility for implementing changes ultimately lies with your client.

    Often the most obvious method for those in the H&S 'industry' is reliance on implementing legislation through providing documentation to ensure compliance.
    Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, taking different tacks may offer alternative paths to achieve H&S goals while realising what appear to be unrelated bonuses take the forefront.
    These paths are less conventional, less obvious and require planning to get to the end.

    When talking with management, consider talking in jargon they relate to. Understanding what their goals are may assist in deciding what paths work best.

    Just my ramblings.
  • Mandy Gudgeon
    9
    @Stuart Keer-Keer

    Check this poster out Keith, it helped support subtle messages for our staff with facial hair, prior to fit testing.
    Attachment
    Respirator facial hair guide (532K)
  • Michael Wilson
    114
    Almost broke Godwin's law and pointed out a famous person who shaved his mustache to fit a gas mask after being order to by his superiors.
  • MattD2
    253
    One slight tweak to the poster... and hopefully subtle enough
    3u51mrvthq05o0gg.png
  • Derek Miller
    39
    May be of interest as it's around lack of policy on RPE and wearing of beards with respirators and the old myth of Vaseline.
    Pest control business fined $250K after workers poisoned
    https://www.1news.co.nz/2021/12/09/pest-control-business-fined-250k-after-workers-poisoned/
  • MattD2
    253
    May be of interest as it's around lack of policy on RPE and wearing of beards with respirators and the old myth of Vaseline.
    Pest control business fined $250K after workers poisoned
    https://www.1news.co.nz/2021/12/09/pest-control-business-fined-250k-after-workers-poisoned/
    Derek Miller
    (Repost from another thread refering to this sentencing)
    Interesting, but the quotes are from WorkSafe NZ's Manager of Health, Health & Technical Services not the judge or prosecution (Scoop article). Given the number of other failings of the company I would be surprised if the prosecution got down to the detail of sealing masks with Vaseline in court - especially given there doesn't seem to be much actual research on the subject to scientifically conclude how effective Vaseline is to seal RPE with facial hair, or not, so it would most likely be seen more as a statement of opinion and a potential reasons for appeal if it had been considered when determining the sentence (I am assuming the company plead guilty).
  • Steve H
    237
    Will be interesting to read the actual judgement in this case rather than a reporters regurgitation of a Worksafe opinion.
  • Derek Miller
    39
    I've actually spoken directly to individuals involved.
  • Derek Miller
    39
    I can sate that the vaseline myth was old when I trained back in the 80's, it was a quick fix used by the RN when caught short, at least that was its intent, in attack there wasn't much time. to take a beard off. That business got debunked in the late 80's and by early 90's clean shaven with RPE was in along with research.
  • MattD2
    253
    So did WorkSafe bring up the Vaseline comment in court? And did the judge consider it when determining the sentence?
    Also if you have the research/studies that "Vaseline" does not provide an effective seal I would be keen to read them.
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    32
    The challenge now is that a lot of business's struggle to get employees. Many a time we have been told, "look mate if I require them to shave I would have no staff". Sure we can get them to engage and explain the why, but that does not always work. After all how many people smoke yet they know it affects their health. What do others do in the situations where there are lots of folk with various stages of growth and the employer will not require shaving.
  • Don Ramsay
    94
    We have gone as far as using full PAPR
  • Stuart Keer-Keer
    32
    Thanks Don this is a robust solution but the cost will put a lot off. Shaving is not an issue with positive pressure masks.
  • Steve H
    237
    but the cost will put a lot off.Stuart Keer-Keer

    Out sourcing an employee who says "I'm not shaving" will prove costly too Stuart, as will trying to replace them.

    So far, my research hasn't pulled up any studies where subjects with beards have been fit tested using any kind of "agent" to promote a better seal.
  • Don Ramsay
    94
    we got the STRATA PAPR down to 1K each which is a great price and we now carry all the consumables in the store. So it may be a large initial outlay but in the long term, it is the best solution to cover beards. And Worksafe like them....
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to the Safeguard forum!

If you are interested in workplace health & safety in New Zealand, then this is the discussion forum for you.