Safety & HCM Post

What Would You Do? Respirators, Beards & Religion

by Bongarde Editorial

Beards

Your plant requires all machinists to use respirators with tight-fitting facepieces. Since facial hair interferes with a tight seal, the plant adopts a new “no beards” policy. One machinist says he won’t follow the policy because it’s against his religion to shave his beard.

HAT WOULD YOU DO?

A.     Fire the machinist for insubordination

B.     Back off and let him use the respirator without shaving

C.     Seek a solution that protects his safety without forcing him to violate his religion

ANSWER

C.

EXPLANATION

A is wrong because firing an employee for refusing to obey a safety policy on religious grounds immediately without first exploring the possibility of making an accommodation is a form of religious discrimination.

B is wrong because allowing a worker to use a tight-fitting respirator without an effective seal violates OSHA laws and endangers not only the worker but any co-workers who rely on him.

C is right because where a worker raises a religious objection to a safety or other company policy, you need to speak to your HR director about seeking an accommodation that won’t compromise either the worker’s safety or religion.

Bongarde Editorial

Bongarde Editorial

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