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

Grant Prior 1 year 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

Shake-up for £2.9bn MoD hard FM contracts

Post-Carillion bid race for MoD estate and housing regional FM contracts
2 hours ago

Caddick takes workforce plastic-free

Workers given aluminium drinks bottles in bid to bin single-use plastics
33 mins ago

Wates wins 7th Leeds Wellington Place job

Work will start of £35m 4 Wellington Place project next month
9 hours ago

Kier targets £50m disposals to cut £375m debt

Firm sets out debt reduction plan in robust year-end results
14 hours ago

Betting Spy: Spurs to shrug off recent troubles

Tottenham can kick-start a win treble with Leicester and Crystal Palace
25 mins ago

Keltbray concrete structures boss exits

Keltbray Structures MD Gordon Dunne on gardening leave
1 day ago

141 jobs axed as M&E specialist George Birchall fails

Larger FM business George Birchall Service avoids administration
14 hours ago

Morgan Sindall bags £384m London scheme first phase

Hackney scheme includes an academy, leisure centre and six blocks of flats
14 hours ago

Mace confirms £180m Olympic Park East Village deal

Firm will fine-tune its 'rising factory' method on the No6 East Village project
14 hours ago

Contractor trials mixed reality headsets on school site

BIM and Microsoft HoloLens used to check M&E work
2 days ago

PM pledges extra £2bn for housing associations over 10 years

Longterm funding will be made available from 2022-2029
1 day ago

Jacobs to lead Edinburgh city centre transformation plan

Team will set out plan for historic overhaul of streets and public space
1 day ago

Costain and Galliford Try fined £2.8m after worker loses toes

Massive fine after accident at Cheshire water treatment works
2 days ago

Boost your online presence – join the new Enquirer Directory

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

Van Elle shareholders stage AGM revolt

Shareholders block board's ability to issue new shares for acquisitions
2 days ago

£100m Bristol sports arena plan at Ashton Gate stadium

Sports and convention centre will be attached to Lansdown Stand
2 days ago

Balfour Beatty raises £43m from hospital stake sale

Balfour sells 50% stake in Fife Hospital PPP
2 days ago

Kier offloads pensions unit for £3.5m

Third party pension management business administers half of all police pension
2 days ago

Willmott Dixon clinches £38m Winchester sports centre

Work to start in Spring 2019 on major leisure and sports complex
2 days ago

Architect TP Bennett reaches record turnover

Manchester office grows on back of city building boom
2 days ago

Brexit migration plan would “cripple construction”

Industry pleas ignored over need for steady flow of low-skilled site workers
2 days ago

Wates wins £16m Stockport college revamp

Work is due to start in the early new year on Wellington Road Campus
2 days ago

Balfour Beatty pioneers plastic pylons in Scotland

140 composite poles installed by new helicopter crane in just five days
2 days ago

Plan for 55-storey Manchester student skyscraper

Plans submitted for 168m tall red brick tower at Hulme Street
3 days ago

Crossrail sparks threaten stoppages over lack of loos

Electricians threaten to down tools at Bond Street station site
3 days ago

37 firms to pitch innovations for Heathrow expansion

Search for Heathrow’s Innovation Partners progresses for 3rd runway
3 days ago

Engie lands £52m Newbury PRS deal from Grainger

Construction to start by end of year on new "urban village"
3 days ago

Former Severfield boss joins Billington as chairman

Ian Lawson returns to constructional steelwork after recovering from illness
3 days ago

Czech facade specialist wins second scheme in Manchester

Sipral wins facade package for twin tower flats
3 days ago

Keepmoat closes West Midlands office after £13m hit

House builder aims to build more than 4,000 homes this year
3 days ago

Contractor services