Is there a law against wearing shorts on construction sites?
Well, shorts on site are becoming as rare a sight as a toilet roll during a lockdown…. And it’s gets people on site just as angry. But is it illegal to wear shorts on construction sites?
There is no specific regulation that states “Shorts must not be worn”. However, Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations that states
“The Principal Contractor must plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and co-ordinate matters relating to Health and Safety during the construction phase to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, construction work is carried out without risk to health and safety”
Err, so again, Why can’t I wear shorts on construction sites?
Because one way of complying with the regulation above, the ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, construction work is carried out without risk to health and safety, bit, the Principal Contractor will impose a policy of no shorts wearing and include it in the site rules. It’s very similar to when there was a push on skin cancer and many Principal Contractors imposed a “Tops On” rule.
The risks of skin exposure when wearing shorts on building sites
- Skin Cancer
- Concrete Burns
- Cuts that can become infected
- Allergic or contact dermatitis causing dry, itchy skin
Is the risk of skin damage on site that high?
The risk is there, so the risk must be managed. Although it is unpopular, so was wearing hard hats but now it is the norm. As mentioned before, the Tops On campaign to reduce the instances of skin cancer has shown results. It is a fact that there are less instances of skin cancer on site.
What is the HSE’s View
The HSE will issue notices to the principal contractor for not managing the risk of the wearing of shorts on construction sites but they can also issue a notice to the person wearing the shorts. Here’s an example.
A landscaper is wearing shorts whilst flagging.
The HSE issue a notice to the Principal Contractor for failing to manage the risk to the landscapers skin. They have a policy in place that states No Shorts to Be Worn on Site. The Principal Contractor is fined because they did not enforce their own policy. A fee for intervention is charged.
The Landscaper is then Personally issued with a notice for failing to co-operate with the controller of the site (the Principal Contractor). He also has to pay a fee for intervention.
The HSE have answered the question “Is it OK to wear shorts on a construction site” on their FAQ page, under the heading clothing and footwear. You can read the answer here.
So, are shorts banned on a construction site.
No, not all construction sites – just the ones with a policy or site rule stating No Shorts.
How to Avoid Claims or Enforcement
Ensure your Risk Assessment identifies and controls the risk
Ensure the operatives on site comply with the risk assessment
Consider certain trades, such as groundworkers, having to cover their legs due to the varied nature and use of cement in their tasks