On Friday October 27 a ruling was released by the Joint Australian/New Zealand Standard. It was prepared by the Joint Technical Committee SF-010, Occupational Respiratory Protection.
This ruling addresses enquires in relation to the use of a tight fitting facepiece connected to a PAPR (positive air purifying respirators) with Facial Hair and fit testing.
This ruling affirms the statement below about limitations and conditions required for use and fit testing of tight-fitting PAPR and is available for viewing online and also to download for free (after creating an account and signing in) at AS/NZS 1715:2009 Rul 1:2023 Ruling to AS/NZS 1715:2009 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment | Standards Australia Store
Use of a tight fitting facepiece connected to a PAPR (positive air purifying respirators) with Facial Hair
Commit2Fit has received questions about a manufacturer’s statement that is being circulated in New Zealand which indicates that for their positive air purifying respirators (PAPR): ‘protection performance is not reliant on achieving a good mask seal’. Therefore, ‘annual fit testing and being clean shaven are not requirements that ensure a high level of wearer respiratory protection’.
Commit2Fit is not aware that any of the current standards, AS/NZS1715:2009, ISO 16975-3, OSHA 1910.134 and/or others have changed in regards to the need for no interference between the seal of the tight-fitting facepiece and the face of the wearer.
Until enough evidence is collected with sound peer review; and standards committees include these changes into current standards; Commit2Fit respiratory protection training and competency scheme remains aligned with current standards reinforcing the message that no tight-fitting respirator should be used with facial hair that interferes with the seal regardless if used in positive or negative pressure operation.
Furthermore, these PAPR units connected to tight fitting facepieces must be temporarily converted to a negative pressure mode to be fit tested (or a subrogate negative pressure respirator of the same design and with equivalent sealing surface should be used to conduct the fit test). Frequency of fit testing should be done as per AS/NZS or ISO standards for any tight-fitting respirators: prior to first use, annually and sooner if there are any changes in the facial characteristics of the wearer.
Commit2Fit have had queries in regard to the use of an elastic band wrapped around the wearers beard to try and create a smooth surface; in order to achieve a seal with a tight-fitting respirator (Singh Thatta Technique). Workers may have religious or medical reasons for not shaving and may have heard about this technique and wish to adopt this practice. Although some studies have been undertaken and published; these have substantial limitations on the data collected and have not been suitably reviewed.
Commit2Fit would like to remind Commit2Fit fit testers and users of respiratory protective equipment that current standards, AS/NZS1715:2009, ISO 16975-3, OSHA 1910.134 and others are very clear of the need for no interference between the seal of the tight-fitting respirator and the face of the wearer.
Until enough evidence is collected with sound peer review; and standards committees include these changes into current standards; no tight-fitting respirator should be used with facial hair that interferes with the seal.
Fit Test Record Templates – Commit2Fit examples (feel free to use them)
Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) Videos
Click HERE for the latest WorkSafe RPE Videos
See below WorkSafe NZ video links supporting clean shaving – and HERE for article and Video.
Click the button above to read the WorkSafe Guide “Using disposable respirators to protect from COVID-19”
Complete the Commit2Fit Competent fit Tester information for Website form HERE (once competency is achieved), or to update / amend your Register details.