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RAF Beards...?

Old 29th Oct 2019, 18:43
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Air Canada tested beards on their aircrew in 2018 the report is online I believe, it showed no adverse O2 issue with either on demand or pressure systems. This is simply those at the top disagreeing with a policy and using Kneejerk reaction to block the issue.

Basically those at the top of 1Gp/2Gp are so out of touch with reality, they need to adapt and move on from the bloody 1980’s . Here is an idea pay for a study and stop being finger in the air wind blowing response artists !
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Old 29th Oct 2019, 18:47
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What risk is made more likely or the results more severe by the presence or absence of facial hair?
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Old 29th Oct 2019, 18:52
  #143 (permalink)  
 
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Please excuse me dusting off my cobwebs, and failing to comprehend the current civilian ‘fashion’ for facial hair, but ...

It looks untidy and, essentially, [email protected]
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Old 29th Oct 2019, 19:03
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Typhoondriver

Presumably naval clearance divers, SF parachutists & NBC personnel may continue to wear beards with their oxygen masks, because that's a different case altogether?
Navy Regs are in BR3: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/-/media...chapter-38.pdf

When the safety of an individual might be jeopardised by his beard or moustache, such as in the wearing of oxygen or gas masks, it shall be modified in such a fashion as to accommodate the type of equipment to be worn. The Commanding Officer retains the authority to determine the requirement for an individual to shave, based on the Operational requirement at that time. Once ARTS testing has been completed, COs ARE to order the shaving of beards when the CBRN threat level is MEDIUM or higher. Other occasions, such as Operational Sea Training and/or similar exercises, in which the CBRN threat is LOW will not warrant the requirement to shave. If the individual refuses to modify their facial hair (or headdress) to the extent necessary to maintain their own safety and Operational Capability, then they may be disciplined. Should they continue to refuse, commanders should consider not deploying that individual into theatre or removing them from theatre if already deployed. Disciplinary action and non-deployment are in extremis measures that should be adopted incrementally.
Beards or moustaches shall be shaved off if the conditions of Para 3818 sub para e cannot be met.
This is their regulation for Sikhs:

The hair and beard may remain uncut, provided that the operational mission and safety are not jeopardised when it is required that individuals wear occupational and operational equipment such as a respirator, oxygen mask, combat/vehicle/flying helmet, hardhat, diving mask etc. When a hazard clearly exists, the hair and/or beard shall be modified to the degree necessary for wearing the required equipment, in order to meet safety requirements.
I know there has been issues with SF HALO jumpers that have to shave otherwise they won’t achieve a seal - that may also be for pre-breath too. So really, your point holds little evidence that the other Services don’t have to shave it or you won’t be able to do it policies.

Oh, and RAF Firefighters were forbidden to have beards under the current recent RAF beard policy - quite why the fools that released the policy didn’t listen to the advice on beard grooming products and needing ‘leak and flow’ checks as part of the process, is just beyond me. They did and now we find ourselves in this mess when common sense, and extant RN regulation, showed that there has been problems and hence regulation written to prevent it.

As ever, myth and b0ll0x and being away from RN CoCS has thwarted the truth of policy on RN beards.

Finally, why anyone would want to look like a scruffy Matelot or a similarly scruffy MP from Islington is beyond me too...
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Old 29th Oct 2019, 21:53
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Really? Never noticed anyone with a beard having an issue with HAHO jumps. Getting to the ramp edge with all the equipment can be a massive challenge, but the beard is trivial. Quite a few that operate the front end have been known to wear a beard and cope with the pre-breathing and beyond just fine.

Beards and AEA is not new, novel or a contentious safety point. It may be new to some in the RAF but that alone does not make it a safety issue. This reminds me of PCS giving us a short jacket rather than a shirt, before making some of us tuck it into our trousers 'like we used to'. Change is just too much for some air officers.
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Old 30th Oct 2019, 00:44
  #146 (permalink)  
 
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and failing to comprehend the current civilian ‘fashion’ for facial hair,
Like all fashions, these come and go. I have a beard, not for any reasons of following fashion (I'm 72 for goodness sake) but because I like it. Beards went out of fashion post WW1 and didn't make a comeback until the 60s, and then only in certain circles. Go back to the 19th century and it seems that any man of note had a "beard you could hide a badger in" if I may quote Blackadder. Funnily enough I have always disliked moustaches (except when accompanied by a beard) and was never tempted to grow one when I was in the RAF, even though it was permitted by regulations.
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Old 30th Oct 2019, 07:24
  #147 (permalink)  
 
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Tankertrashnav wrote:
[…]and so my beard was probably a lot more hygienic than her hair. Didn't go down too well[…]
Testing the 'Velcro effect', were you?
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Old 30th Oct 2019, 14:19
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I used to spend more time than I wanted as SLP in civil airports awaiting flights. One way of amusement was to count beards as people passed by. For adult males it was one in twelve and fairly constant and thus predictable.
Recent Gatwick observation puts it at about one in ten, although designer stubble confuses the matter somewhat.
Not good on politicians, especially women.
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Old 30th Oct 2019, 17:37
  #149 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by langleybaston View Post
.
Not good on politicians, especially women.
Collecting stats on ladies’ beards could have seriously bad consequences!

BTW, I never vote for a politician with a beard. What are they trying to hide? Or am I just ‘anti-beard’?
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Old 30th Oct 2019, 19:58
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Really? Never noticed anyone with a beard having an issue with HAHO jumps.
Yes, the RSM needed to have a word with one of the TLs to modify his beard for a PAF. Wasn’t too popular, but led to a suitably whacky looking bit of hair that only they would get away with!
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 00:10
  #151 (permalink)  
 
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Testing the 'Velcro effect', were you?


I am reliably informed that such an experiment would not be possible now as most ladies these days are devotees of the razor in that area !
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 07:11
  #152 (permalink)  
 
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Has anyone ever actually done leak and flow checks with and without a beard on O2 masks, firefighting BA or CBRN rig? In the sense that a report would be available identifying the actual (if any) degradation of performance? That would be a far more useful document for the thread than service dress regs.
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 07:24
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Originally Posted by orca View Post
Has anyone ever actually done leak and flow checks with and without a beard on O2 masks, firefighting BA or CBRN rig? In the sense that a report would be available identifying the actual (if any) degradation of performance? That would be a far more useful document for the thread than service dress regs.
Try searching on fire fighter breathing apparatus and respiratory protection equipment. The HSE has some very good advice on not having a beard - lot’s of global academic and scientific research on that too. Beards are banned by the majority of firefighting duties (including in the RAF).

Fit testing basics - Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 08:27
  #154 (permalink)  
 
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I am not emotionally invested in this in any way, and frankly couldn’t care less about others’ facial hair choices. But I suspect that LJ is on to something with the HSE reference. This from HSG53:

82 The wearer needs to be clean-shaven around the face seal to achieve an effective fit when using tight-fitting face pieces. Training is a good opportunity to make employees aware of this. If workers have beards, or are unable to be clean-shaven, a tight-fitting device will not be suitable so an appropriate loose-fitting device should be chosen.
From experience with other topics on which the HSE has published guidance (for instance, fatigue management) I know that a very compelling case needs to be made before Duty Holders will go against a HSE ‘should’ (which is similar in meaning and legal effect to a MAA ‘should’). The quote above uses ‘needs’ and ‘will not’ which are unequivocal terms and leave even less (...no) room for manoeuvre. The only ‘should’ in that quote is one that probably excuses religious beards, on the basis that a loose-fitting device is impracticable.

Now, you can say the HSE publication is wrong, or that the Duty Holder can take a risk (because oxygen masks only act as ‘filtering devices’ on the very rare occasions when smoke and fumes occur), or that a case could be made that slight overpressure eliminates any risk, but to what benefit? That would be the question tested in any court case and that’s why these things can be difficult to go against.

Last edited by Easy Street; 31st Oct 2019 at 08:38.
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 16:12
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The HSE article covers systems that go negative when the wearer breaths in, risking contaminants being drawn in. An aircrew mask has flex seals that use the positive pressure provided by the system to push against the face and ensure that any leaks are outboard - ie the complete reverse of the HSE article.

AvMed have been happy with beards if you can achieve a suitable seal when tested. One presumes that any court case would bring in AvMed experience rather than an HSE document that may be used by a painter and decorator. If you pass the routine check fit with your mask / helmet / headset then all should be good for the DH.

Incidentally, given the care, selective fitting and routine check fits most of us are used to then the civilian side where either a shovel or alien mask with a one-size-fits-nobody rating stuffed in a cubby as part of the basic aircraft fit looks a little more cavalier!
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 16:13
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Originally Posted by Easy Street View Post
I am not emotionally invested in this in any way, and frankly couldn’t care less about others’ facial hair choices. But I suspect that LJ is on to something with the HSE reference. This from HSG53:



From experience with other topics on which the HSE has published guidance (for instance, fatigue management) I know that a very compelling case needs to be made before Duty Holders will go against a HSE ‘should’ (which is similar in meaning and legal effect to a MAA ‘should’). The quote above uses ‘needs’ and ‘will not’ which are unequivocal terms and leave even less (...no) room for manoeuvre. The only ‘should’ in that quote is one that probably excuses religious beards, on the basis that a loose-fitting device is impracticable.

Now, you can say the HSE publication is wrong, or that the Duty Holder can take a risk (because oxygen masks only act as ‘filtering devices’ on the very rare occasions when smoke and fumes occur), or that a case could be made that slight overpressure eliminates any risk, but to what benefit? That would be the question tested in any court case and that’s why these things can be difficult to go against.
what chutney.

RN firefighters (that is to say anyone at sea) are allowed beards. We simply test them to check that the mask fits, and they trim as necessary.
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 16:14
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Originally Posted by Easy Street View Post
I am not emotionally invested in this in any way, and frankly couldn’t care less about others’ facial hair choices. But I suspect that LJ is on to something with the HSE reference. This from HSG53:



From experience with other topics on which the HSE has published guidance (for instance, fatigue management) I know that a very compelling case needs to be made before Duty Holders will go against a HSE ‘should’ (which is similar in meaning and legal effect to a MAA ‘should’). The quote above uses ‘needs’ and ‘will not’ which are unequivocal terms and leave even less (...no) room for manoeuvre. The only ‘should’ in that quote is one that probably excuses religious beards, on the basis that a loose-fitting device is impracticable.

Now, you can say the HSE publication is wrong, or that the Duty Holder can take a risk (because oxygen masks only act as ‘filtering devices’ on the very rare occasions when smoke and fumes occur), or that a case could be made that slight overpressure eliminates any risk, but to what benefit? That would be the question tested in any court case and that’s why these things can be difficult to go against.
If smoke and Fumes are present, the mask should be delivering a positive overpressure (EMERG) Or has someone missed this point? It’s not a filtering device. Please show me a single service issue, emergency use oxy mask that has a filter?

Plenty of civvie pilots sporting face carpets (other mitigations in place). Not entirely sure that this decision has been particularly well researched from a risk management perspective.
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 18:13
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LJ,

Deliberately being pedantic - but that link takes me to a page that simply says (at the bottom) that it is impossible to achieve a good seal with facial hair - not how this was found out, how good/ bad a seal could be achieved, when a bad seal mattered at all with the supply as it is...
I can understand why folk may suppose a beard leads to problems - I just don’t think it’s ever been proved scientifically what they are.
If we limit to FJ O2 masks for now does anyone know differently?
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 18:23
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I don’t know about science, but...

Previous posters have already alluded to the fact but I will echo the sentiments. I have spent the last two years flying with facial fluff. Admittedly it’s not exactly a full Brian Blessed but it is definitely a beard.

I have not experienced any issues and regularly operate in a variety of height regimes.

I understand that it polarises opinion but I think it is a welcome change. Besides, I have always hated shaving.

BV
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Old 31st Oct 2019, 19:21
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Regardless of O2 supply/fumes, what’s the perspective on flash fires when the victim has protruding facial hair? Just curious, but I assume increased risk of personal injury.
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