Whether you have a drywall hanger who started cultivating a bushy beard before ZZ Top made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or your welder is determined to push stubble style into , things can get hairy fast when a respirator is needed. To work effectively, tight-fitting respirators require a secure seal around the face. And we mean tight; even a day or two of stubble can be enough for some guys to render the seal ineffective. Any gaps can let in contaminants headed straight for the lungs. Not all facial hair is out of bounds, however. This letter from OSHA is a helpful read on that front.
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules.
A PortaCount is a machine that measures air pressure inside the mask. Really, the worker needs to be clean-shaven. Two methods are used for fit testing — qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative is less expensive and easy to administer, but the Assigned Protection Factor for the mask is rated at a lower level.