The Top 10 Most Ludicrous Health & Safety Rules in Trades
When working in the trades industry, you’re bound to face some rather questionable safety rules and regulations.
And it doesn’t stop there – from the “banning of heavy lifting” to the “use of ladders”, it seems the UK tradesmen must adhere to some rather dubious rules and regulations.
At Dickies Workwear we’ve been collecting data about the most weird and wacky health & safety rules in trade. Here are what tradespeople are being asked to follow.
1. The ban of shorts (even during summer)
61% of our participants experienced a ban on shorts in their site/workplace in the past. Whether workers can wear shorts on a site depends on the site’s policy. If the site policy states that workers must not wear shorts to work, then it’s expected that everyone adheres to the ruling – even if in the sweltering heat of summer.
It’s important to consider the environment you’re working in, to protect against hazards, for example, wearing shorts could leave the lower leg vulnerable to various injuries that could become infected, as well as weather conditions and trade specific hazards (such as overexposure to UV light when working with arc welders).
2. Must wash hands after toilet or risk removal from site
14% of participants said that they have been told to wash their hands after going to the toilet or risk removal from site/workplace. Perhaps one of the strangest responses, workers had to wash their hands after the use of the toilet or risk removal from site. We’re unsure of how this is monitored, nor whose job it is to keep watch on the lavatory usage and hand cleanliness thereafter.
3. Wearing a harness which isn’t attached to anything
You read it right.
Across all industries, if you’re planning to work at height, the regulation is a maximum of 4 feet before wearing a harness. In construction work, the threshold height is 6 feet above a lower level. Fall protection on scaffolding is required at 10 feet.
4. The ban on short sleeves
31% of participants have been banned from wearing short sleeves on site. In recent times, more and more construction sites and companies are adopting the "long sleeve PPE" safety policy. This generally refers to the requirement to have all members of the workforce wearing long sleeve shirts when working on site. The main reason for this new requirement is quite simply sun protection.
Many site workers complain that it’s too hot to wear long sleeve shirts, however, when the sun does not hit your skin directly it is in fact much cooler to wear long sleeve PPE.
5. The ban on radios
63% of participants said that they’ve experienced a ban on listening to the radio on site. A highly debatable rule. Whilst it’s a quite different environment working on a full-blown building site to doing some building work or painting on a domestic property, having a radio (or other device blaring out music or talk radio or TV at any volume) is now considered to be unsafe, given that it distracts the workers from the task at hand, which often involves them having to concentrate on doing the job properly and safely.
As such, radios are banned from building sites (including whether refurbishment work is taking place).
6. Hard hats aren’t compulsory
In the construction industry in the UK, 3% of workers sustain a work-related injury and 11% of these injuries are from being struck by an object. In fact, another 66,000 injuries are estimated to go unreported every year.
While it isn't 100% compulsory by law to wear a safety helmet on a construction site if there is no risk of head injuries, however, on most construction sites there are dangers so wearing hard hats are necessary.
7. The ban of heavy lifting
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), handling, lifting or carrying makes up 20% of non-fatal injuries to employees.
These factors can create excessive stresses and strains on the body. This can cause immediate damage to muscles and tendons such as sprains and pains but can also lead to longer term or recurrent problems. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interest to not exceed weight restrictions.
8. The ban of stepladders and ladders
A large number of workers are seriously injured or killed using ladders and stepladders each year; in 2018, the HSE reported 26% of fatal injuries to workers are from falls from height, whereas non-fatal injuries make up 8%.
It’s a common myth that stepladders and ladders are a health and safety risk. According to HSE this is a myth and stepladders and ladders are not banned, merely a precautionary measure.
9. Make sure your hi-vis clothing fastened correctly
One of the respondents was not allowed onsite until his hi-vis vest was completely fastened at the front. However, according to HSE, around seven workers die and 93 are seriously injured annually by vehicles or mobile plant on construction sites.
All UK employers need to ensure that staff know how to wear it correctly and when it is required.
Just when you thought you saw it all, perhaps not a legal regulation, but it must’ve been an enforced rule in this workplace…
10. Having to deal with bizarre client requests
Perhaps not as much a rule as a standard protocol, but we’ve heard of the term “the client is always right” and so, especially when working in housing sites, it often happens that tenants like to get involved. Just like our friend, Wayne Bettess from Plumb Chat experienced.
“Over the years we have seen the number of seemingly bizarre rules on sites increase for sure. However, in some occasions, these are perfectly legitimate policies – for example rules on sleeves may be in place where high visibility is required to ensure the employees have the correct surface area of reflective material to comply with specific EN ISO regulations for the dangerous surroundings,” says Mark Tapper, Head of Ecommerce at Dickies Europe Ltd.
He continues, “We’ve been busy behind the scenes to ensure our product development evolves with changes in both regulations and normal working practices to continue to meet & exceed the demands of modern workers. This helps keeps Dickies® as the brand of choice for performance workwear across the globe. If you’re unsure as to why a particular rule may be in place at your place of work I’d recommend speaking to the H&S team, as it is likely that there is a logical explanation.”
Site rules should be clear and easily understandable. They should also be brought to the attention of everyone on site that is expected to follow them.