A building construction firm from England, UK have swung the ban hammer upon furry faces at their establishment, claiming that beards are too hazardous and prevent dust masks from fully functioning correctly.
Mears Group began circulating a letter to its employees this week which underlines the new ruling against facial hair in the workplace. The letter says: ''Operatives who work in a potentially dusty environment must come to work clean shaven to be able to wear appropriate dust masks effectively.''
There are however some exceptions, but only few that many may not meet. You may have facial hair if it is for religious reason or if it is based upon medical grounds to do so.
The new ruling has since been condemned by the Workers Union. Mark Soave, from the regional official union for London has said: ''The arrogance of Mears is hair raising! This is a highly delicate issue, which has huge cultural, religious and personal issues and where sensitivity should be the watchword. But instead members have been handed a decree from on high. This is clearly a case of Mears going for the cheapest option and amounts to ''penny pinching stupidity''. Other forms of masks are readily available and these should also be offered to all existing workers. At Unite we always put the safety of our members first and creating huge resentment and anger among your workforce is never the way forward. Mears Construction needs to withdraw the decree and enter into a proper consultation with Unite and the workforce.''
This must feel like a huge kick where the sun doesn't shine for their employees, it always seems to be one step forward and three steps back when news reports such idiotic ruling coming into play in this day and age. It is something that is easily fixed with the use of different equipment that isn't overly expensive and is readily stocked from most suppliers.
Mark Elkington from the Group Health and Safety Directors of Mears went onto say: ''We are pretty surprised that Unite, who claim to have the safety of workers at heart, have taken this rather disappointing stance. Every employer in the UK has a legal responsibility to ensure that employees working in dusty or otherwise potentially hazardous environments are properly protected and in recent years employers have been prosecuted for failing to fulfil this duty.
The simple fact is that no dust mask can work effectively unless is forms a tight seal against the skin. That is not possible with a beard or even heavy stubble. If the Health and Safety Executive did a spot site visit and found workers wearing dust masks that were not sealed against the face then we would be liable to prosecution.
The only alternative to a dust mask is a full hood over the head, which brings with it its own risks. For example, many of our operatives do not like wearing a full hood and it can affect hearing and line of sight. It can also be uncomfortable to wear and can raise concerns with our clients who do not like to see workers in such hoods because of how it looks to customers''
Whilst I understand each side of the fences points of view and standing, I can't help but feel a choice would be better presented to the employer themselves to decide on, rather than have the option decided for them on their behalf by the employer. But what do you guys think? As always let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.