THE SINGH THATTHA BEARD WRAP TECHNIQUE
Updated: Oct 10
SINGH THATTHA BEARD WRAP TECHNIQUE
The Australian Standards and New Zealand Standards AS/NZS1715:2009 are quite clear on the need for individuals wearing a tight-fitting respirator to be clean shaven in order to achieve an adequate seal therefore receiving the masks full intended protection.
The need to be clean shaven is still a requirement although there is an exception for healthcare workers. FTA enforces a clean shaven policy at all times with one exception being the Singh Thattha beard wrapping technique for healthcare workers.
There are many reasons behind why an individual may choose to keep their facial hair and refuse to be clean shaven, be it personal, medical due to skin irritation, cultural or religious.
There is one particular religion that requires all individuals, man or woman to maintain their hair without cutting it, for men, this includes facial hair. It is believed their body is a gift from God and should be left in its original physical form. This religion is Sikhism. It is said that out of love and devotion to their Gurus, Sikhs do not cut any of their hair. This tradition is believed to date back to the 17th century. A Sikh with long hair and an untrimmed beard is seen as a spiritually devoted man of faith.
Sikhism has more than 25 million Sikhs worldwide and is the world's fifth-largest religion.
For many other industries, the good news is there is a wide range of respiratory protection on the market catered to individuals who desire to maintain facial hair. These devices are called Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) and with so many options available, industry workers can select an appropriate PAPR best suited to their work or task on hand.
Loose fitting PAPRs do not require fit testing. A PAPR in the Healthcare sector can be quite cumbersome with limitations that may not be practical when conducting AGPs or treating infectious patients. Dentists in particular, may find it difficult to wear certain types of PAPRs as they may interfere with their loupes when performing procedures.
To accommodate individuals who choose careers within healthcare and cannot shave, NSW HealthShare’s Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) has adopted the Singh Thattha beard wrap technique. This involves the individuals wrapping their beard with an elastic band or wearing a Balaclava to act as a second skin so the mask can form an adequate seal to the band/balaclava being worn. This in turn means the N95/P2 mask can provide its intended protection and achieve the desired result of a pass deeming it suitable for use in the workplace. You can view the CEC video on how the Singh Thattha fit test is conducted.
Fit Test Australia Embraces The Singh Thattha Technique
As a company that values individuality, diversity, mindfulness of cultural traditions and religious beliefs, Fit Test Australia (FTA) is proud to be able to provide the Singh Thattha beard wrap technique fit test for any healthcare worker or student who requires one for work or clinical placement.
Upon completion of your Singh Thattha fit test, Fit Test Australia will add a note in your certificate that the beard wrapping technique was performed. Please be advised that you will be required to wrap your beard each and every time you are required to wear your N95/P2 mask. Just a friendly reminder, this method is strictly for Healthcare personnel only.
You can read more about NSW Health and the North Shore Sikh Association (NSSA) in the article provided here about beard wrapping and how they came to adopt the method.
Note: Throughout Australia, states may vary with its accepted methods and practices, this method is accepted in NSW although in Victoria it is in a trial phase.
The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) is undergoing Singh Thattha trials, if anyone in Victoria wishes to participate you can sign up here. The RMH is said to be seeing positive results which is great news for those participating, hopefully in time it will also be adopted as an accepted method across all states.
Victoria Paramedicine Workers and Students
Ambulance Victoria has advised Fit Test Australia that it will not accept the Singh Thattha/Beard Wrap Technique for operational staff, volunteers, contractors, or students. AV is not involved with the Royal Melbourne Hospital Trial and have stated they will work on a case-by-case basis to seek a solution that allows the student to complete their placement. For any Victorian Paramedicine student that is due to go on placement with AV and is unable to shave, please speak with your clinical placement coordinator and AV for assistance on how to move forward with your clinical placement.
Please see below some helpful links:
If you need more information, please contact our friendly team at email@example.com who can assist with any queries. You can call Michal – 0403 065 064 or Rebekah 0407 487 422.