Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

No Beards Allowed: Drilling Sites Offer Men Shaving Kits

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

No Beards Allowed: Drilling Sites Offer Men Shaving Kits

Article excerpt

"Write a story about my beard," Eric Madia called out from his booth at Hart Energy's Marcellus-Utica Midstream conference last month.

It was a slow news day.

Mr. Madia ran his fingers along the wiry tuft on his cheeks and chin. Only then, looking around the convention center exhibit hall, did he suddenly appear out of place. Nearly all the other attendees - mostly men - were clean shaven.

What about your beard, I asked.

"He wouldn't be allowed on a Noble site," said Jeff Eldredge, Mr. Madia's boss at Utah-based ProFire Energy, whose trim goatee also would disqualify him on a drilling operation run by Texas-based Noble Energy Inc.

Why not?

Maybe because it's flammable, Mr. Madia guessed. Or maybe because if there's a chemical release of some sort, you need a tight seal for a respirator mask and a beard would surely get in the way.

Yes, that's it, the men agreed.

Mr. Madia, a sales manager with the oil and gas service firm and self-described "oilfield extraordinaire," can vividly recall the feeling of crappy razors on his skin during a visit to a Chesapeake Energy well site some years ago.

His beard was mostly scruff at that point, Mr. Madia said. A sign at the well site said that all visitors must be clean shaven, so he was handed a kit.

Really, "It wasn't much of a kit," he said. "It was a couple of cheap disposable Bic razors and a little travel size shaving cream. And a sink."

Mr. Madia said he took it like a pro.

"Work before beard," he said.

It's generally up to a company to dictate facial hair policy for people on well pads, said Wayne Vanderhoof, president of RJR Safety Inc. in Claysville.

The main concern is making sure a respirator mask can form a tight seal around the face. And the most common reason to need a respirator on oil and gas well sites is if the drilling operation encounters a pocket of toxic gas such as hydrogen sulfide. …

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