Thursday, 5 April 2012

Breathing not so easy!

Of major importance when wearing a tight fitting half face respirator of whatever make is the necessity for the operative to be clean shaven. Having a beard or a moustache renders the tight fitting respirator completely useless since the facial hair breaks the tight fitting seal. Since no employer in the UK can actually stipulate in today’s employment market that all operatives must be clean shaven, which may well have been the case more than twenty years ago, then facial hair of whatever length can become a major issue. Imagine the howls of derision there would be in the national press if a company was discovered carrying out an employment policy which dictated how their operatives must look.
If there is one or more employees with a full beard to whom a half face respirator cannot then be issued, then the employer has to find another type of ‘suitable’ RPE for that employee or employees. This obviously makes the purchasing process more protracted and expensive and the use of a wide range of RPE may be very much more difficult to monitor. Indeed because of the way that the law stands at present, there may be anything up to ten or even a dozen types of face protection being used by various workers in the same area of the same site. This would create a nightmare scenario and leave the poor old site H&S officer scratching his head (did I hear muffled laughter in the background), and in any case I very much doubt if a visit by an HSE Inspector would result in a close check on who passed which test and on which RPE. But then perhaps I am too much of a cynic?

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