Life as a health & safety manager would be easier if you could simply ask people to shave. You'd fulfil your obligations to keep them safe. But with the fashionable beard, they might not be so keen to do so.

Negative air respirators can be effective, but they depend on a tight fit and a good seal to keep the wearer protected from contaminants. Every employee should undergo face fit testing to make sure there’s a proper fit – but even something as innocuous as a beard can become a serious obstacle to safety.

A Powered Air Respirator is the answer – but it’s not just a suitable alternative for those with beards and facial hair. In fact, powered air respirators come with a range of advantages that make them an excellent choice for your workplace.

Reason 1. A loose fit that’s still protective

A Powered Air Respirator can be used with a loose fitting headtop, where the seal is at the top of the headtop as opposed to around the mouth or nose. That means that you can provide the same high-level protection against harmful airborne substances to people with beards and facial hair.

This helps you comply with the Respiratory Protective Equipment at Work guidance from the Health & Safety Executive, which states: “If workers have beards or are unable to be clean-shaven (…) a loose-fitting device should be chosen.”

Reason 2. Increased comfort for better wearer acceptance

Anyone who has worn a tight-fitting facepiece will know how uncomfortable they can be. As well as the tight seal, exhaled breaths make them incredibly hot to wear.

In a powered air respirator, cool air is delivered through a fan-assisted inlet. This maintains outstanding airflow while the loose fit reduces the breathing resistance you’d expect with a negative pressure respirator. As a result, your wearers are more comfortable – even across an entire shift.

Reason 3. Better productivity with fewer breaks

The Health & Safety Executive recommend that anyone wearing a negative pressure respirator should take a break once an hour, reducing the risk of wearer fatigue. Across an entire shift, day, or week, this can have a surprisingly big impact on productivity. The comfort and loose fit of a powered air respirator removes that need. Your employees can work safely for longer, without the threat of fatigue or extended discomfort.

Reason 4. Multiple applications with one respirator

Finally, a powered air respirator can be remarkably cost-effective, thanks to a range of interchangeable headtops to suit different environments, tasks, and hazards.

Options include strong face shields, full and half hoods, anti-static headtops, and helmets. Whatever hazards your wearer's face, just switch the headtop to match – there’s no need to buy different powered air respirators for every occasion.

Find a better balance between comfort and protection

A powered air respirator gives you the best possible balance between wearer comfort and effective protection. Whether you’re trying to cater for bearded employees or just looking for a respirator that people enjoy using, you’ll find a complete range of Scott Safety Powered Air Purifying Respirators and Headtops for a variety of applications and hazards in our PPE catalogue. You can also download a PDF here.  If you have any questions, call us on 0800 328 5028 and ask to speak to one of our PPE experts.