Ban on binmen wearing shorts labelled ‘heavy-handed’

A refuse collector in Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt.

A refuse collector in Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt. - Credit: IAN BURT

A ban on binmen and other Norse staff wearing shorts has been criticised as “heavy-handed”.

A refuse collector in Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt.

A refuse collector in Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt. - Credit: IAN BURT

The rule was imposed last month by Great Yarmouth Borough Services (GYBS) on its refuse collectors, street cleaners and grounds maintenance staff, with the company stating that wearing trousers would improve health and safety.

"Wearing work trousers has the benefit of protecting staff against the sun, cuts, abrasions, spills, animal faeces and plant sap," GYBS operations director, Dave Newell, said.

He added: "While recognising that change can cause concerns, we are pleased the vast majority of our staff have accepted this move is designed, and intended, to improve their safety."

But Jonathan Dunning, branch secretary at Unison Norfolk, the union representing Norse employees, said: "Something as prescriptive as this sounds a little bit heavy-handed."

"We'd expect Norse to consult with Unison before sending out any message such as this, because Great Yarmouth Borough Services are saying this is a health and safety issue."

He added that Unison would agree with some of the reasons for the prohibition, and that in certain circumstances employees need to keep as much of their body covered as possible, but that GYBS should adopt a "common sense approach".

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"If somebody is working on grounds maintenance, sitting on a machine cutting grass, in our view it is not necessary to be wearing long trousers," he said.

Mr Dunning added: "The ban seems a little bit too all-encompassing."

A letter sent to GYBS staff on August 22 stated: "As from Monday, 26th August 2019, you will no longer be able to wear shorts whilst at work.

"Whilst it is appreciated that this may cause some resentment from individual employees that have historically been used to wearing shorts (especially as would have been the case during the recent periods of hot weather), this new requirement is being implemented to protect the workforce."

Mr Newell said: "We require our refuse operatives, street cleansing and grounds maintenance staff working at locations around the country to wear work trousers for their own protection and this applies regardless of location.

"To that extent, our managers have recently brought staff in Great Yarmouth into line with colleagues in the rest of the country."