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January 30, 2014

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Proposal to extend exemption afforded to turban-wearing Sikhs

 

The HSE is proposing to make an amendment to extend the exemption in the Employment Act 1989, so that turban wearing in any industry will be exempt from the need to wear head protection.
 
Section 11(1) of the Employment Act 1989 exempts turban-wearing Sikhs from any legal requirement to wear a safety helmet while on a construction site, although currently this exemption does not apply in workplaces other than construction sites. 
 
After a campaign that raised this as an important issue for UK Sikhs with Government officials in January 2013, the Sikh Council UK has given “a cautious welcome” to the news. 
 
The Sikh Council UK identified problems being experienced by members of its community due to the limitations of the current exemptions. They pointed out that limiting the exemption to an industry that has a high risk of head injuries, due to falling items and not to other, lower-risk industries was an anomaly. 
 
Another reason given by HSE for the proposed amendment was that members of the Sikh community have faced disciplinary hearings and dismissal for refusing to wear head protection. Others have been unable to follow their chosen professions because of the insistence of the need to wear head protection.
 
Gurmel Singh, secretary general of Sikh Council UK said: “I welcome this news. It will make a real difference to Sikhs in the UK by increasing the number of workplaces that Sikhs can work in whilst maintaining their religiously mandated identity.”
 
According to HSE the exemption relates only to head protection and only to turban-wearing Sikhs. It does not extend to those Sikhs who do not wear turbans or to other personal protective equipment.
 
HSE is also considering, if the proposed amendment is made, whether there is a need to include details of sectors, tasks or roles that should not be included in the exemption because the risk to employees is too great.
 
This consultation will run for a period of two weeks, ending on 7 February 2014. 
 
View the consultative letter.
 
Responses should be sent to:
 
Employment Act Amendment Team,
Health and Safety Executive,
5S1 Redgrave Court,
Merton Road,
Bootle,
Liverpool,
L20 7HS
 
Or email: [email protected]

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Anthony
Anthony
8 years ago

Has any research been conducted on how much protection a turban gives, as compared with current PPE used on building sites.

Dan Robertson
Dan Robertson
8 years ago

This makes me Sikh! The original concession was unbelievably stupid, sending completely the wrong HSE message. Now exacerbated by expanding the stupidity to other workplaces….

kevin
kevin
8 years ago

No disrespect to anybodys beliefs there should not be any exemptions whoever you are. It doesnt look good for any workplace to be lenient on anyone.

Nigel
Nigel
8 years ago

“They [The Sikh Council UK] pointed out that limiting the exemption to an industry that has a high risk of head injuries, due to falling items and not to other, lower-risk industries was an anomaly” So the way to resolve an anomaly is to expand it to becoming a bigger anomaly then?!

Paul Lawrence
Paul Lawrence
8 years ago

I have to agree with Kevin and RayR.

If the risk was so low nobody would need PPE.

On my sites it will remain ‘One Rule for All without exception’

RayR
RayR
8 years ago

IMO no exemptions should be given – it sends out the wrong message. Many construction sites display a PPE notice board which states: No PPE – No Entry.

If your beliefs or relgion do not permit you to conform, then you should consider another trade.

Roy
Roy
8 years ago

What a terrible message this sends out from the HSE. I have never been a racist, or ever will be one. I will say objects falling on any ones head be they Christian or Sikh etc is potentially a fatality – so head protection MUST be worn by EVERY ONE without exceptions. Is the employer now totally exempt from criminal or civil cases if his Sikh employee refuses to wear head protection and is injured / killed at work? I very much doubt it .

Steve
Steve
8 years ago

A hard hat provides protection to the face, electric shock protection, UV, chemical and impact protection. I fail to see how a turban can adequately protect. This is totally the wrong direction, in safety there has to be one rule for all. Whoever is the brains behind this has managed a workforce.

Stuart
Stuart
8 years ago

The construction sector has moved on leading to say the exemption is behind the times. Manufacturers spend resource on testing their products to ensure they are fit for pupose, I have seen 2 types of turban worn where one is not fit for adequate head protection.

Tempest63
Tempest63
8 years ago

Will HSE extend exemption to dust control?

Practicing Sikhs should not cut their hair or beards, therefore any face-worn RPE such as dust masks will be next to useless and a hood will not pass over a turban (trust me I have tried). I can see many companies falling foul of either safety legislation or employment law.