Beard ban for Mears maintenance workers in Tower Hamlets

PUBLISHED: 15:10 02 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:48 02 June 2017

Mears have banned workers from wearing a beard. Picture: Zak Hussein/PA Wire

Mears have banned workers from wearing a beard. Picture: Zak Hussein/PA Wire

They have become the ultimate accessory for hipsters across London but beards have become a no-no for a group workers in Tower Hamlets.

Staff working for maintenance company Mears at a site in the borough have been told they had to be clean-shaven so they could wear dust masks safely.

However, exceptions will be made for people who cannot shave for medical reasons or have a beard for religious reasons.

If you are goatee fan your luck is in providing it does not impact the fitting of dust masks.

The new rules were laid out in a letter sent to workers which has angered union bosses.

Mark Soave, Unite regional official for London, 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.

“This is clearly a case of Mears going for the cheapest option and amounts to ‘penny pinching stupidity’.

“Other forms of masks are available and these should be offered to existing workers.”

Susan Murray, Unite national health and safety adviser, added: “The use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) may be one of the control measures, but the wearing of face masks should be a last resort and priority should always be given to eliminating the risk.”

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.

“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.

“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.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the East London Advertiser