Fashion Police – When Safety and Fashion Collide

Bearded man resists electric trimmer employer instructs him to shave for safety reasons.

It was hard to miss the controversial incident at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ London office in May this year when a temp receptionist was sent home for refusing to wear high heels. Since then, more than 150,000 people have signed the receptionist’s petition to make it illegal for UK employers “to require female members of staff to wear high heels at work against their will”. A separate incident in Canada hit online news outlets just days later, with reports showing a woman’s injured feet after a shift as a waitress at a well-known Edmonton restaurant.

These incidents highlight the safety implications of potentially outdated dress codes and policies.

But the problem isn’t always the policy.

Just last year a South Australian man’s fashion choice led him to break company safety policy and losing his job. The former BHP Billiton employee’s trendy goatee and moustache were against the company’s clean-shaven policy. His facial hair made it impossible for him to use the required respirator to protect him from toxic chemicals in the underground Olympic Dam mine.

He argued his goatee was his “personal attribute” and his “liberty of right”. He lodged an unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission, but his dismissal was deemed fair. BHP acted within its own policies to avoid a potential safety incident, and the Commission upheld this decision.

Policing Your Policy

Having a work health and safety policy is one thing, but making sure it’s up-to-date is another. Reviewing policies and compliance training regularly is crucial to ensuring they remain relevant.

Once your policy is reviewed, the next step is educating your staff on why it’s important and the consequences of ignoring it. One great way to make sure all employees have access to this information is to deliver it online. This means both new and long-term employees can review the information anytime, ensuring no one has an excuse for breaching policy.

CourseGenius has just launched a new suite of legally compliant pre-built online courses to allow you to flexibly train your staff. They’ll also help you combat the risk of employees slipping through the cracks and missing their compliance training altogether.

Sign up to access free, on-demand samples of CourseGenius’ compliance courses in Workplace Health and Safety, Bullying and Harassment and Social Media and Electronic Communications or speak to our Australian-based support team for more information on 1300 880 200.

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