No Shave November

How Does This Impact Safety?

The new OSHA silica regulation for the construction industry has a number of unique challenges for contractors. The lower Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) may make tasks, once having exposures within allowable limits, now require the use of respiratory protection. Contractors are now adding a Respiratory Protection Program to their requirements. The use of a respirator requires a clean-shaven face in the area of the respirator. Safety managers are now tasked with requiring employees to shave their face as part of their job description.  Why is this necessary? Gases, vapors, and particles in the air will take the path of least resistance and bypass the part of the respirator that captures, or filters hazards out. Although some argue that the hair will filter out the dust, human hair which appears to be very thin to the naked eye, is much larger in size than the particles inhaled. Some studies have shown that even a day or two of stubble can begin to reduce protection, with the presence of facial hair under the sealing surface causing 20 to 1000 times more leakage compared to clean-shaven faces.

So, if you are going to participate in the fun, check out NIOSH’s creative options, experiment with your facial hair, but don’t let the hair cross the respirator seal!