HSE inspectors are warning companies that stubble and beards dramatically reduce the effectiveness of face masks designed to keep out the dust.
The HSE’s guidance on silica dust states: “Remember that filtering face piece or half-mask respirators give little or no protection to men with beards and that even a minor growth of stubble can severely reduce the effectiveness of respiratory protective equipment.”
But the latest crackdown has stunned contractors who believe the rules are impractical.
One stone cleaning specialist told the Enquirer: “In our section of the industry the only real way of reducing operator exposure is via their PPE.
“If the operator is issued with a dust mask it is the contractor’s responsibility to ensure that the mask is fitted to the individuals face.
“We’ve been told by the HSE that stubble and beards are not acceptable so at the start of every morning we are supposed to check workers’ faces for smooth skin.
“How on earth is this going to work? What should the legal limit for stubble be, and what if someone’s beard grows back quickly – will shaving at lunchtime become compulsory?”