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Hair today, gone tomorrow

In a bold move the construction firm Mears has banned construction workers on site from having beards, on the basis of this being a risk to their health and safety.

The health and safety in question involves the wearing of dust masks and whether having a beard impacts their effectiveness on keeping dust and other particles away from the face. 

There are some exceptions to the rule; a letter sent out to workers states that a goatee “may be acceptable so long as it doesn’t hinder the correct fitting of said dust masks’. Also if a worker can’t shave or wear a mask for medical or religious reasons, providing they supply sufficient proof (medical certificates or letter from place of religious worship), they can be excused from this rule.

Workers were informed of the decision by a letter and tool box talks have been delivered on site and this is now a Mears nationwide policy for the entire company. They are also taking a strong stance on this with anybody not adhering to the new policy being taken down the disciplinary route.

The firm has been criticised for rather than banning beards, or other forms of facial hair, they should recognise the diversity of their workforce and that other forms of respiratory protective equipment could be made available, which would allow the employee to have the protection they need without having to be clean shaven. In response to this Mears have stated that the health & safety of their workers is their priority.

It is unclear whether this stance will be adopted by other large construction companies and if it will start to impact on their subcontractors working on their site. This is something to keep an eye on other the next few months.

For further advice on Face Fit Testing or any other area of safety in the workplace, please contact our team on 01302 341 344.

By Kris Kerins Cert CII – Risk Services Adviser

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