Mears and union in dust-up over beard ban for workers

Grant Prior 9 months ago
Share

A war of words has broken out between Unite and Mears after the contractor banned its housing maintenance workers from having beards.

Mears is demanding its workers are clean shaven so dust masks are fully effective.

The only exceptions are if a worker can’t shave for medical reasons, a dust mask can’t be worn for medical reasons or a person has a beard for religious reasons.

Unite regional official for London Mark Soave 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. Instead members have been handed a decree from on high.”

Mark Elkington, Group Health and Safety Director of Mears Group 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 fulfil this duty.

“The simple fact is that no dust mask can work effectively unless it forms a 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 alternative to a dust mask is a full hood over the head, which brings 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.

“It is vital to note, however, that if a risk assessment shows that the hood is a better option for a job or a worker insisted on having one, then, if assessed to be suitable, we will supply that hood.

“If one of our workers suffers respiratory illness as a result of a poor fitting mask then that is our responsibility and we place the safety of our workers at the top of the priority list.

“Finally it is worthy of note that this affects a very small percentage of our workers who would be in that environment.

“One has to question the real motives of Unite which has chosen not to take the safety of its members seriously in order to make a cheap point.”

Matthew Judson, technical director at safety equipment specialist JSP said: “Mears cannot allow their staff to work if not properly protected.

“A mask cannot be tightfitting on stubble, there really is no argument on that. If you want protecting you need to shave or use the powered devices.”

 

Latest news

Carillion liquidator pledges 7-day redundancy service

Government sets up specialist team to process staff
2 days ago

Carillion Aberdeen bypass project team transferred

57 of 63 staff taken on Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try
2 days ago

MPs demand more evidence from Carillion bosses

Directors face further scrutiny over late payment claims
2 days ago

Scaffold clip falls 20 metres hitting passer-by

Victim left with broken nose and damaged skull
2 days ago

Boost your online presence with the new Enquirer Directory

New site for suppliers and buyers will showcase their products, services and latest stories
4 months ago

Contracts up for grabs in Birmingham building boom

Big names want to meet new suppliers: Register now
2 days ago

Nearly 80 housing projects win kick-start funding

£45m cash injection to support building up to 7,280 homes on council-owned land.
2 days ago

Are you the best in construction? – Enter the Enquirer awards now

Enquirer awards are voted for by your staff and supply chain
2 days ago

Robertson wins £19m Belper care home

Work to start in April on Derbyshire care home and library project
3 days ago

London’s biggest Boxpark approved

Capital’s third shopping container mall in Wembley gets green light
2 days ago

Axed Carillion staff slam PwC over redundo claims delay

Worried ex-staff face losing their homes
3 days ago

Tribunal victory “blows a hole” in agency payroll model

Unite vows to step up campaign against bogus self-employment
3 days ago

Procure North West issues £2bn build framework bid alert

Bidding to start next month on Liverpool and Manchester building framework
3 days ago

Cladding firms risk fitting poor ACM in post-Grenfell confusion

UK's biggest cladding distributor pulls all systems failing to reach A2 standard
3 days ago
Vivalda Group plc

Briggs and Forrester bullish about building services market

Specialist set to hit £225m turnover after an award winning year
3 days ago

Canadian firm to buy Carillion UK FM contracts

Serco and BGIS deals to save 4,000 support services staff
3 days ago

Wates residential boss leaves after reshuffle

Joanne Jamieson leaves business and is replaced by Richard Shroll
4 days ago

Groundworker loses leg after being hit by tipper truck

Civils firm MV Kelly fined £500,000 after accident on housing site
4 days ago

Morgan Sindall transport chief joins BAM

Bill Gifford takes on new role as Highways Strategic Director at BAM Nuttall
6 days ago

Galliford Try to raise £150m to cover Aberdeen Bypass

Fund raising for £150m cash commitment to Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route
4 days ago

Bid race for £190m Manchester town hall revamp

Management contractor to be appointed by December for Grade I listed building overhaul
4 days ago

Serco cuts £20m from Carillion health FM deal

Buyer strikes revised deal with liquidator
4 days ago

Network Rail targets 10% savings in £47bn CP6 plan

Decisions on major enhancement projects deferred to focus on delayed projects
5 days ago

Plantworx moves to Peterborough for 2019 show

Indoor and outdoor facilities of East of England Arena will stop show being blighted by bad weather
4 days ago

BAM director joins McLaren to lead public sector push

Keith Rayner joins as contractor looks to win more framework places
5 days ago

Vinci replaces Carillion on £74m Manchester student halls

Fallowfield student village to restart but suffers four-month delay
5 days ago

Construction show calls time on scantily clad stand models

UK Construction Week organisers issue new diversity guidance after showgirls storm
5 days ago

Big four accountants accused of feasting on Carillion

Accountants paid £72m in fees over a decade for Carillion related work
5 days ago

London Mayor approves 21-storey Pocket Living tower

Croydon set for second off-site built residential tower block
5 days ago

McAlpine wants suppliers for £460m Woking scheme

Firms from across south east invited to open day: Register now
5 days ago

Contractor services