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Moustache Or Madness?

We’re now in Movember, but for some people the fashion or cultural demands of facial hair is a problem. It’s nothing to do with lack of masculinity; rather it’s to do with lack of seal.

According to Poul Lund Hansen it is not so much what escapes but what sneaks past the less than perfect seal due to the facial hair. Poul, a former operations manager, spent much of his working career at Maersk H2S Safety Services and he pointed out the perils of the current fashion for the three-day growth as well as those who don’t shave for religious or cultural reasons. ‘It’s a problem because it takes so little of a gas like H2S to get past the defenses.’

It’s a subject which organizations like the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration have spent a considerable amount of time. They have, on occasions, informed companies that they are an unsafe workplace simply because some wearing a half respirator had a beard. The solution using full face respirators is both costly and often impracticable.

Beyond fashion and religion, facial hair opens up a world of extremes and peculiarities. Sappers in the French Foreign Legion, for instance, must wear full beards. The Danish Army encouraged their growth in Afghanistan because it broke down cultural barriers, although the Royal Life Guards outside Amalienborg Palace are required to shave.

There are some surprises Mexico, a country almost synonymous with the moustache, bans facial hair for soldiers. Australians are allowed a moustache, but no wider than their top lip and from the beginning of January, the same applies to anyone in the US Army. But it’s not just a wake up in the morning decision; they have to apply under regulation 670-1 in order to grow a beard or moustache.