A construction firm has banned its employees from having beards
Staff working for Mears at a site in Tower Hamlets, east London, were told they had to be clean-shaven so they could wear dust masks safely.
Exceptions will be made for people who cannot shave for medical reasons, a dust mask cannot be worn for medical reasons or a person has a beard for religious reasons.
Goatees may be acceptable as long as it does not impact the fitting of dust masks, a letter to employees reportedly said.
Other forms of masks are available and these should be offered to existing workers
Mark Soave, Unite regional official for London
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.
"This is clearly a case of Mears going for the cheapest option and amounts to 'penny pinching stupidity'.
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Staffers were told they had to be clean-shaven so they could wear dust masks safely
"Other forms of masks are available and these should be offered to existing workers."
Unite national health and safety adviser Susan Murray said: "The use of Respiratory Protective Equipment 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."
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Accident Prevention Through The Years Sun, January 4, 2015
Picture shows one of the pieces in a collection at the National Railway Museum in York for accident prevention throughout the last 100 years. This century-old collection of posters showcases health and safety thoughout the ages – with train accident prevention posters featuring everything from tigers to bikini models!. The collection shows how health and safety finally got on track, with campaigns for better protection for train workers dating as far back as 1914. Worker's deaths on the lines were combatted with a series of leaflets and posters showcased in this exhibition at the National Rail Museum in York. Dr Mike Esbester, senior lecturer in history at the University of Portsmouth, discovered leaping tigers, charms and cartoon strips all played a part in conveying the saftey message to the thousands of rail workers who risked their lives each
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Picture shows one of the pieces in a collection at the National Railway Museum in York for accident prevention throughout the last 100 years
According to the company, dust masks can't work properly with beards
Mears group health and safety director Mark Elkington said: "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.
"We are pretty surprised that Unite, who claim to have the safety of workers at heart have taken this disappointing stance."