UK construction firm Mears has banned its staff from sporting beards while on the job.
This is according to a letter obtained by Inside Housing, which told workers that “operatives who work in a potentially dusty environment…must come to work clean shaven.”
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The letter was distributed through a staff meeting in Tower Hamlets, but it is understood that the policy has been adopted across Mears’ UK workforce.
According to the company, beards obstruct the proper use of dust masks, which are vital in certain working conditions.
The company makes exceptions for those who cannot wear the masks for medical or religious reasons.
You can read the letter to staff below…
Unions call it ‘penny-pinching stupidity’
The move caused anger amongst unions. Unite’s London regional officer Mark Soave told the Guardian: “This is clearly a case of Mears going for the cheapest option and amounts to penny-pinching stupidity.
“Other forms of mask are available and these should be offered to existing workers. Unite will always put the safety of our members first and creating huge resentment and anger among your workforce is never the way forward.
“Mears needs to withdraw this decree and enter into a proper consultation with Unite and the workforce.”
Mears allay fears
Mears, however, are sticking to their guns. Responding to the union, they said:
“We are pretty surprised that Unite, who claim to have the safety of workers at heart, have taken this 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 fulfill this duty.
“The simple fact is that no dust mask can work effectively unless it forms a seal against the skin.
“This 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.”
What’s your take on Mears’ beard ban? Let us know below.