Every profession demands some changes in a person’s lifestyle. Welding is also the same. For welding, you may have to sacrifice your beard. If you are just learning about welding, this fact may surprise you. For many men, their beards are their pride. So, is welding a beardless profession?
Certified welders are not allowed to have long beards. This rule is for the safety of the welders because lengthy beards get in the way of wearing respirators. You can have a beard if it fits into the respirators. However, it is still unsafe during welding.
In this article, I will discuss why welders should not have long beards. As you can try different styles of short beards to fit into respirators while welding, I will also tell you which types of respirators work for beards.
Why Can’t Welders Have Beards?
The American Welding Society has set some safety protocols for welders. According to one of these safety protocols, welders should not have beards. So, if you are a certified welder, you will be recommended not to keep beards, especially lengthy beards.
But how can your beard compromise your safety in welding?
During welding, welders fuse metals through heat and pressure. Thus, the process creates toxic welding fumes. If welders constantly inhale these fumes, the contaminants will reach their lungs and cause serious respiratory illnesses.
To stay safe from these toxic smoke and pollutants, welders have to wear respirators. The respirators must fit your face perfectly to prevent smoke from getting to your mouth and nose.
Having long beards will cause problems in putting on repertories. The system will not fit well on your face, and the toxic fume can travel to your respiratory system.
The contaminants from the fume will damage your lungs. As a result, you can get various diseases that can even cause death. Some of the health problems you may get are pneumonia, emphysema, asthma, tuberculosis, bronchitis, and even lung cancer.
In order to avoid these diseases, you must wear a well-fitted respiratory system. Therefore, you should not have a long beard as it will be in the way of fitting the respiratory system.
Wearing a respirator mask or shield is also important to keep your face clean and prevent allergic reactions. Many people are allergic to metals and chemicals. Fumes or particles from certain elements can get into your lungs or eyes and irritate them.
Even if you put on a respiratory mask over your face, your facial hair can cause itchiness. Besides, the sparks from metal fusing can fly to your beard and burn it. Thus, you will get distracted from your work.
Also, the particles from different metals and chemicals can get stuck in your beard. You may end up carrying the toxicity to your home, and other family members may come in contact with the contaminants.
Tips on Keeping Beards for Welders
As you can see, beards make welding a bit complicated. Certified welders cannot work for companies if they have long beards. Some companies may even ask you to shave off any beard-long or short.
Now, if you want to maintain your style and keep on welding, keep your beard neat and short. Your facial hair should not outgrow your facial frame. The same goes for your mustache and the sideburns. Keep them trimmed and short so that they do not cause any problem wearing a respiratory system.
You can try out some beard styles and wear a respiratory mask to check if it fits perfectly on your face with the beard. When it fits, you should not have much problem welding.
However, it is better to consult with an expert from AWS-certified training facilities. They can give you advice on the correct length of beards for welders. Also, you can talk to your employers to get their opinion on keeping beards.
Which Types of Respirators Work With Beards?
You have plans to keep your beard short or a bit longer. So, what type of respiratory will work with beards? Let’s consider the general types of respirators.
There are typically two types of respirators systems for welders- Negative Pressure Respirator (N95) and Powered Air Purifying (PAPRs). Both types can fit your face depending on the length of your beard.
Negative Pressure Respirator (N95) is the most common respirator that works perfectly for welders and other professionals dealing with contaminants. This type of mask completely seals off your face and nose area. Thus, the mask gives maximum protection from toxic fumes from welding.
The N95 masks work well for clean-shaven welders or welders who have short beards. But it is not for welders with long beards. The mask cannot hold so much facial hair, and it will not fit. Thus, welding fumes can easily get inside the mask.
Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) are a better option for people with varied lengths of beards. It is a respiratory system that comes with an air filter to remove contaminants from the air. PAPRs are loose-fitted hood or helmet-style respiratory systems that completely cover your face. Thus, you can fit it over your bearded face.
If you want to use PAPRs, you should learn to use one properly and get permission from the American Welding Society and your employer. PAPRs are also more expensive than N95 masks. So, consider your budget as well.
Between these two types, powered air-purifying respirators are a better option for welders who want to work with beards. It can give you protection from the contaminants from welding. Again, even if long beards fit in the PAPRs, they can still cause irritation and distract your focus.
Can You Just Ditch The Respirator?
What if you want to keep your long beard? Since the respirator is the problem, can you ditch wearing it? The answer depends on many factors.
Certified welders working in contract with companies must wear respirators. The companies are concerned for the safety of the welders, so they will ask you to comply with their safety rules.
It is not the same for independent welders or when you work in your private space. In such cases, you are responsible for your safety. You can ditch a respirator any time you want. Hence, you can keep your beard long as long as you want.
But is keeping a long beard worth your safety? As you have already learned, welding metals using chemicals produces dangerous elements that cause serious health problems. So, ignoring a respirator completely does not seem to be a good idea.
Yes, you might do quick welding work, or you think the work is completely safe to perform without wearing a respirator. That is fine if you can pull off the job without any accidents.
However, you do not make the habit of ditching respirators. You may not care about the occasional toxic fumes going into your lungs, but there are other problems you need to worry about.
Welders have to work with flames and heat. So, there is a high chance your lengthy beard can catch fire if there is any mishandling of fire. It may suddenly catch you off guard, and further accidents can happen. It becomes even more dangerous when you work in high-rise construction and windy conditions.
So, is welding a beardless profession? It depends on the type of welding you plan to do. As a certified welder working under a company, trim your lengthy beard. Independent welders can weld with any size of beards they want, but the beard will compromise their safety.