• Mark Kenny-Beveridge
    36
    Hi All,
    With the current COVID environment and mask requirements for some businesses/industries, I have noted that many worksites are implementing mandatory masks, without seeming to risk assess the impacts this change may have on current risks and controls or even introducing new risks.
    Largely we know how problems with glasses fogging can imped visibility (does anyone have a solution?) but also other impacts I wonder if the consequences have been considered, e.g. mental wellbeing for those we struggle to wear masks; wearing masks doing hot works etc.

    Has anyone else struck this, and how have you managed the conversation of striking a balance or prioritising COVID risk vs impacts on other risks
  • Steve H
    267
    Fogging of glasses is a bit of a giveaway that either the mask is being worn incorrectly, incorrect fit, or the wearer has a beard.

    Seems to me that engineering an increase in air changes will do more. Likewise, where someone is isolating at home, setting up a negative pressure zone for the isolatee, would give some measure of protection for the other folk in their bubble. The Asbestos Removal industry could advise/do this.

    Negative air pressure zones could be set up in some workplaces to keep work bubbles separated too.
  • Alex
    15
    There are some solutions for glasses fogging up, including making sure it fits snuggly around the nose, wearing your glasses slightly further down or using an anti-fog lens wipe.

    Our workers are expected to wear a mask if working within 1m of one another and safety glasses are usually mandatory for them although exceptions can be made (if approved by the supervisor and dfor specific tasks only)
  • Mark Kenny-Beveridge
    36
    Thanks guys. Yup we are working through the fit issue etc. What my point I was trying to make is, how many businesses have quickly implemented COVID controls without following their usual risk management processes to understand how COVID risks are prioritised against their other risks when it comes to determining which is the more pressing risk to manage and if they have reassessed their current risk controls after implementing COVID controls to ensure that the COVID controls don't negatively impact on their other risk controls or introduce new risks.
  • Michael Wilson
    116
    I have found disposable masks are much worse than fabric ones at fogging glasses. They also work better for bearded fellows. I ended up shaving mine off during lockdown (and have regretted it ever since) but it makes the masks fit better.
  • Steve H
    267
    I ended up shaving mine off during lockdown (and have regretted it ever since) but it makes the masks fit better.Michael Wilson

    Not so much for disposable masks, but for Breathing Apparatus and Gas Masks, a little bit of Vaseline creates good seal for beard owners, I found back in the day, Michael.
  • Michael Wilson
    116
    I will try that in six months when it recovers it's former glory
  • Don Ramsay
    104
    Nz Safety sell Miteywipes that clean and also stop glasses from fogging up
  • Derek Miller
    39
    If the glasses are fogging up then the mask isn't fitted correctly, it's an indictaion that the seal is not working. Hence the reason that you need to be clean shaven to wear disopoble or reusbale negative pressure respirators. It also may be the design your wearing is not suited for your face shape that's why there are different designs, fit testing from a reputable provider will show this up.
  • Steve H
    267
    Hence the reason that you need to be clean shaven to wear disposable or reusable negative pressure respirators.Derek Miller
    A little bit of Vaseline creates good seal for beard owners I found back in the day,Derek- worked fine with a gas mask on in a sealed chamber with CS gas canister activated to provide an incentive to achieve a good seal :smile: An old Navy trick.
  • Derek Miller
    39
    Remember those days from my time as a rat catcher in RAF. This was an old solution which didnt really work well, so nowadyas its an air fed or clean shave if negative opressure. Latest one doing the rounds is that you get a good fit if you put on a beard net before putting on a respirator or use egg white! Other problem with vaseline is that it degrades the seals/rubber and you need to reapply it regularly throughout a day wearing RPE, plus greasy hands. So better clean shaven, mine came off yesterday as back to wearing disposable respirators tomorrow for a few hours
  • KeithH
    112
    how does the design of the gas mask you refer to relate to the half and full face respirators and face masks commonly used today?

    A google search of face mask, full face respirator, half face respirator and navy gas mask tends to indicate they are not the same. But I could be mistaken.
  • Steve H
    267
    Worked with both Keith, with SCBA smoke pots were the incentive to get a seal, or the ingress of water if in a flooded compartment situation. Derek is correct that long term, a petroleum based product will degrade the rubber seal, but how long should they be used for in any case. Likewise, there can't be many situations where someone would have to wear any mask continuously throughout a day, even slaves get the odd break :smile:
  • KeithH
    112
    @Steve H LOL like the final comment
  • Steve H
    267
    Announcement to crew of Roman galley, "Good news team this morning there will be extra rations for all- after lunch the captain wants to go water skiing" :smile:
  • Steffan St Clair-Newman
    13
    In our industry we didn't really get a choice regardless if we completed a Risk Assessment or not and yes this is very frustrating when you look at how the teams complete their tasks, the hygiene requirements regardless of Covid and the need for additional PPE, no matter what we have tried, due to the cool environment and physical work, our masks get damp very fast, fog glasses up etc and we have tried just about everything except a space suit...
  • Gary Clarkson
    5
    The issue I am finding with our team is headaches and, fatigue as the air exchange is reduced and they do lots of heavy lifting.
  • Mark Kenny-Beveridge
    36
    I agree @Steffan St Clair-Newman, and that is my problem...it feels that our standard risk management processes have gone out the window with this. When is it OK to accept a control without analysing the risk, esp. when it is introducing PPE which is the lowest form of control.

    Correct @Gary Clarkson, we are finding the same, which seems to be a common finding in some research conducted overseas https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8072811/ . I also find people are getting grumpier in the work day.

    I am very much of the thought, that controls (esp. PPE) must be for a meaningful reason, the Hierarchy of control should be applied (i.e. don't default to PPE), and that foreseeable risks should be prioritised and managed.

    I am trying to question, what is the most foreseeable harm likely to eventuate from in our level 2 workplace...COVID or risks associated with wearing a mask?
  • Sheri Greenwell
    320
    I think there are a lot of organisations that reacted in a kind of 'knee-jerk' fashion to implement controls, without having properly assessed the risks. Not only is a 'knee-jerk' solution likely to be flawed because the emphasis is more on being seen to do SOMETHING (anything!). Early on in the pandemic, everything was unfolding and we didn't know much about it. As time went on, not only did we learn more, the parameters also started changing. This highlights the importance of a number of key points. Do more research and ask more questions to really understand the risks and evaluate your best, most effective options for managing (hierarchy of controls). From then, it is vitally important to keep circling back to review the controls and their effectiveness, as well as identifying what has changed since the previous review - we shouldn't be putting controls on 'automatic' and reviews should genuinely examine the parameters of hazards, risks and controls.
  • Peter Bateman
    241
    On the use of vaseline, this from a WorkSafe prosecution just announced today:

    “Flick Anticimex was advising workers with facial hair to use Vaseline to help the mask fit on their face. This is a myth which is deeply concerning in how widespread it is. Businesses and organisations must stop propagating this myth.

    “Workers wearing RPE should be clean shaven. Even a small amount of stubble can prevent a proper seal from forming. Vaseline does nothing to help this, and workers will still be wearing RPE which hasn’t formed a seal based on incorrect information from their employer.”
  • Steve H
    267


    Mask SealSilicone Mask Seal
    Men usually have had two options if they had problems keeping a seal on their mask due to facial hair. The first was to shave off the beard and/or moustache. The second was to just deal with water in the mask. But we have the answer for you.

    This Silicone Mask Seal helps those with facial hair, such as moustaches and/or beards, achieve a great mask seal.
  • MattD2
    293
    On the use of Vaseline, this from a WorkSafe prosecution just announced today:Peter Bateman
    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).
  • MattD2
    293
    Men usually have had two options if they had problems keeping a seal on their mask due to facial hair. The first was to shave off the beard and/or moustache. The second was to just deal with water in the mask. But we have the answer for you.

    This Silicone Mask Seal helps those with facial hair, such as moustaches and/or beards, achieve a great mask seal.
    Steve H

    Some evidence that it may work for RPE, but remember that water will behave differently than dusts and especially gases so not an 100% analogy.

    @Chris Peace Maybe a good subject for a research project by one of your Masters students?
  • Steve H
    267
    Maybe a good subject for a research project by one of your Masters students?MattD2

    Plus One Chris, be really interesting to see what the facts are, rather than intuitive opinions.
  • Steve H
    267
    Here's a link to a study on Mask Seal Design but use of a "sealant" Silicon Grease or Vaseline wasn't part of the mix. In this study, an undercover was used to try and improve the seal achieved by a bearded mask wearer.

    Another study looked at using a "silicon dressing strip" to try and reduce damage to the mask wearers skin caused by prolonged mask wearing

    r160fczpc3i2gwb8.jpg
  • Steve H
    267
    Influence of facial hair length, coarseness, and areal density on seal leakage of a tight-fitting half-face respirator

    ABSTRACT


    Background: OSHA regulations state that an employer shall not permit tight-fitting respirators to be worn by employees who have facial hair that comes between the skin and facepiece seal. Studies have shown that facial hair in the face seal zone can increase penetration and decrease the fit factor (FF), although the relationship between the amount and characteristics of facial hair and the increase in penetration is not well quantified. This article examines the influence of facial hair length, areal density, and coarseness on FF for one model of half-face elastomeric negative-pressure air purifying respirator.

    Approach: Quantitative fit tests (QNFT) were performed on 19 subjects with beards initially 0.500-in long and subsequently trimmed to 0.250, 0.125, and 0.063 in, then after a razor shave. Three fit tests were performed at each of the 5 lengths, for 285 total tests. The average diameter and areal density of cheek and chin hair were measured. Penetration was modeled as a function of hair length category, beard areal density, and hair coarseness.

    Results: FF decreased with beard length, especially beyond 0.125 in. However, passing FF scores were achieved on all tests by all subjects at the smooth shave and 0.063 in conditions, and 98% of tests were passed at 0.125 in; seven subjects passed all tests at all conditions. Chin and cheek areal densities were significantly different and were only weakly correlated. Beard hair diameters were normally distributed across subjects (mean 76 µm, standard deviation 7.4 µm). Beard length and areal density, but not coarseness, were statistically significant predictors of fit using an arcsine transformed penetration model. FF decreased with increasing beard length, especially beyond 0.125 in, although FF with a “stubble” beard did not differ significantly from a smooth shave. FF also decreased with increasing areal beard hair density.

    Conclusion: Beard length and areal density negatively influence FF.However, tight-fitting half-face negative-pressure respirator fit tests can achieve adequate fit factor scores even with substantial facial hair in the face seal area.

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15459624.2017.1416388
  • Steffan St Clair-Newman
    13
    We have conducted an extensive risk assessment for our workplace in relation to the wearing of masks, we process meat, do not export and the majority of staff work in cool store environments, this leads to all sort of issues with masks including fogging, slipping down, becoming damp very quickly, having to change masks at least 6 times if not more daily, and before you state "the fogging is due to masks not being fitted correctly", this is not the issue as we have trialed several masks, conducted fitting trials and training, the issue is the cold conditions.
    We completed our risk assessment and the biggest risk for us is the use of masks due to constantly adjusting them due to the environmental conditions, having to replace masks often and therefore touching the masks with our hands etc, so for us it would make sense not to wear masks due to barriers, curtains, not face to face, etc...but we are forced by MPI and another association to follow the guidelines for mask use, I wonder if they have conducted a analysis to see what effect the breathing in of bad air due to the gap between the face and mask, or the touching of the mask due to conditions, the increase in headaches, neck pain and frustration due to masks...
  • MattD2
    293
    We completed our risk assessment and the biggest risk for us is the use of masks due to constantly adjusting them due to the environmental conditions, having to replace masks often and therefore touching the masks with our hands etc, so for us it would make sense not to wear masks due to barriers, curtains, not face to face, etc...but we are forced by MPI and another association to follow the guidelines for mask useSteffan St Clair-Newman

    From what I can tell from the MPI guidelines, they are just that - guidelines. Your own risk assessment specific to your business and your operation should trump the guidelines (but it would be expected that the guidance provided has at least been considered). However I don't operate in the Primary Industries space so don't have first hand experience in how MPI are actually "enforcing" their guidelines.
  • Steffan St Clair-Newman
    13
    its more the "Association" enforcing guidelines, but I continue to try and influence our organisation to have faith in our risk assessment and enhanced protocols.
  • MattD2
    293
    its more the "Association" enforcing guidelines, but I continue to try and influence our organisation to have faith in our risk assessment and enhanced protocols.Steffan St Clair-Newman
    Any chance your GMs or CEO/COO regularly meet the counterparts of the other association member companies? If you can get them to ask the question about struggling to deal with the association's mask requirements with their peers they may find that everyone is dealing with the same problem giving more weight behind the push to adapt the requirements, or alternatively maybe they find out a workable solution/alternative.
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