Beard Ban At MSC


Shaving is not necessary for safety. Shaving at sea is a greater safety hazard, a biohazard, than not having a perfect fit with the SCBA. A few gobs of Vaseline on the beard will provide a good seal.

I have heard about docks where they won’t let anyone crew change unless they are clean shaven. Fortunately, I’ve never encountered that


Fit test machine? No. Real world experience? Yes. I keep my beard just under 1/2" when I’m on ship. I’ve gone into a space with a 30 minute bottle, spent almost exactly 20 mins in and came out with 10 mins worth of pressure remaining. This was using an MSA setup. No, I wasn’t working hard. In fact, I was making a point of being as relaxed and deliberate as possible.

@tugsailor All that nice modern stuff is out there. The problem is that there is no requirement that it be provided. If the company can find a setup at 1/4 the price that meets the same requirements then guess which they’re going with? Shoreside will never have to use it, so who cares if the bottle weighs 3x as much?


Slathering a petroleum product on my face before going into a space possibly on fire? No thanks!


Exactly. Shoreside is not interested in real safety if it costs an extra penny. They will only spend for the regulatory minimum. They are only interested in making a show of safety. It’s all bullshit.


Paperwork that blames the little guy for getting hurt is cheap, good safety equipment isn’t.


Back in the 90’s EXXON Bayway in New Jersey had a NO BEARD Policy. Well, I did not know / remember this and was walking up the dock to use a payphone. A Dockworker stopped me and started screaming at me saying that I could not be on “Thier” Dock with a beard. So, I turned around and started walking back to my Tug. He stopped me and once again screaming that I could not be on their dock with a beard. So, I started walking off the dock. Once again same thing, so I looked at him and said you have three choices. One, let me go back to my boat, Two, get me a razor or Three, get me a tent! I walked back to my boat and told the Captain what had gone on just in case he got a phone call.

Bayway was pretty busy that day and there were a bunch of Bouchard Rigs in there. All of a sudden all of the Bouchard Boats got underway and we later found out that a certain Owner of Bouchard was denied entry because he had a beard, so he ordered all of his equipment to leave the dock. You have to give it to “Un-Named Owner”, he has balls.


para. 5.


In MSC it’s more than just an SCBA issue; there is the issue of the gas mask vis-à-vis CBRD. EVERYONE aboard is a potential mask wearer. Granted this is an unlikely scenario most of the time but one never knows when. Then there are the masks worn when painting or sanding, etc., what often happens is those that are bearded can never be assigned certain jobs. It’s then their own unbearded shipmate’s complaints that cause a stir as they get frustrated with always being selected for those jobs while those with beards always “skate”.
Clearly, the solution is to eliminate all males from the work force and just employ ladies, beard problem resolved!:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Is that what is called “space-age” helmets in the states? What century do you live in?


“The American fire service is 200 years of progress unimpeded by change,”


How about posting some photos of current Norwegian safety equipment.


We have one smoke diver set on the bridge and two DG smoke diver sets in a storage locker on main deck for a total of 6 sets.

Take in mind this is a penny pinching offshore company, when I worked on the coastal steamer (Hurtigruten) we had composite cylinders.


10 years out there and not one fire. I understand shipboard fires are an ever present danger and we have to be vigilant in preventing them as well as being trained to fight them, but this is overkill.

Let’s look at the numbers. I’ve been on vacation so it’s been awhile since my last safety meeting, but I recall the very vast majority of injuries at sea coming from slips, trips, and falls. I propose we outfit our mariners with helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards, and fall protection gear for any kind of vertical movement throughout the ship. One of our guys almost lost a finger by shutting a door on it, better add gauntlets to that list of safety gear too. We’ve all heard of the guys or gals who get their hair caught in something, better make us shave our heads.

I’m being facetious here, but I hope my point is made in asking, where do we draw the line on safety.


Slips, trips, and falls are the major cause of injuries. That will never change. However, most injuries are not serious. Nothing more needs to be done about this, except improving walking surfaces.

Watertight doors are a source of occasional injury and a lot of near misses.There are many ways that we can and should reduce this. Slightly more expensive quick acting doors are well worth the extra cost in some locations. Much lighter aluminum doors are appropriate for some locations. Often heavy watertight doors are used where much lighter weathertight doors would be more appropriate. There are technological solutions that would tame the rapid swing of heavy watertight doors when used for passage during severe rolling. Door hazards are worthy of safety improvements.

There is absolutely no good reason not to have plenty of the very best firefighting, lifesaving, and rescue gear available.

Adequare confined space entry and rescue gear is rare. Some companies have a very optimistic definition of what is “not a confined space.” Some simply say “never enter confined space,” but none the less expect it to be done when necessary without the right gear. No good reason not to have the best available gear.


I went thru fire school in Toledo at the Marat facility in 2009; I had a two inch beard, no issues with positive pressure, which is the standard.
I work around active navy folks right now; I think about 5-10% have “no shave chits” deploy with beards, come back with beards. CBRD is a joke. If you get gassed, your prolly fucked anyhow, mask or not.

I’m guessing MSC is reducing crew so little measures can help get numbers down when some guys just say fuck it and quit. I’ve noticed they haven’t had openings in some time for a lot of positions.


That’s possible. They over hired, especially thirds, over the last couple years. I think the biggest thing is the new Admiral, whose role and position of authority over civilians I still don’t understand, trying to make MSC more like the Navy in general. There has been a steady trickle of changes coming out that have upset a lot of people, but god forbid we take action on things that really matter like solidifying our SMS.


whelp, if MSC goes too far over to being “more like the navy” just be happy your berthing is above the waterline in case they start navigating per past Navy standards and playing “bumper boats” with 30000 TEU container monsters…



All right Smat a-- !! Haha . that’s the spirit, turn this conversation on it’s head


So many anecdotal accounts of beards and SCBA being ok, lets see what the scientists say:

The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of personal variables on the fit of the respirators used by firefighters and workers in highly polluted environments. However, resistance from many plants managers was met to conduct the study on their workers. Therefore, we were forced to limit the study on firefighters who were found very cooperative. Forty volunteer firefighters from different departments participated in the study. They were subjected to a daily leak rate measurement using a Control Negative Pressure (CNP) fit tester for five consecutive days. Two types of respirators were used for each volunteer: the Drager type and the MSA. At the end of the study, the association between face shape and presence of beard with the respirator leak rates was investigated. A significant difference in the leak rate was detected between the two types of respirators used, with the Drager respirator having higher leak rates. The presence of a beard increased dramatically the leak rate whatever the face shape was. The oval shape was the best fitting to the respirators, followed by the rounded and finally the rectangular face. The study recommends that personal variables like face shape must be taken into consideration and fit testing must be carried out periodically, to specify the respirator that best fits each firefighter. Having beard must be absolutely prohibited, since it can be life threatening in environmental dangerous conditions such those encountered during extinguishing fires and overhaul situations.

The conclusion is that there should be no beards anywhere near a ships crew that have any chance of having to wear a SCBA set. Everyone from the Captain to the Messman might be required to wear a set if you are firefighting around the clock, if lots of the crew have gone missing or are too fatigued to fight the fire anymore, every rank should be ready to lend a hand and wear a SCBA so everyone should be clean shaven at all times. There should be no exceptions for religions grounds either, no point risking lives for politically correct madness, if Muslims don’t want to cut their beards or Sikhs don’t want to cut their hair then they shouldn’t work in jobs that require it.


The control was with negative pressure(demand) masks;

I haven’t seen a demand pressure scba on any ships I’ve been on, they’ve all been positive pressure… I will reiterate my experience not having any issues in fire school with a two inch beard- the edges were well groomed though, it wasn’t scraggly.

Positive pressure scbas also have the advantage in that the tank duration tends to be the same. Demand set ups have an issue with folks sucking air too fast.

A bigger issue is out of shape folks who’ll pass out or potentially have a cardiac event or just not be able to fully engage in event of fire/emergency. Is MSC going to institute a PT test annually, with cardio events, be it a run/bike/swim?

I understand on tankers being clean shaven as respirators meant for hazmat/fumes don’t seal with facial hair, if they say it’s for cbrne that’s another thing, but a beard with the right fire fighting setup prolly wouldn’t be an issue.