Building’s Forum regulars don’t always focus on serious topics. This week, something from the busy General Chit-chat section

Q: Pencils behind the ear

Should pencils be allowed to be worn behind the ear or does one feel that this could be a serious breach of the health and safety policy and would one need to do a risk assesment?

A: Depends on if you are wearing hard hat, googles, gloves and safety boots.

A: I would rather wear a pencil behind my ear than where the chief draughtsman threatened to put it when I made a mistake as a young lad.

A: It doesn’t really matter in my eyes, but from a customer’s point of view it could look unprofessional and may be dangerous?

A: How can a pencil behind one’s ear be dangerous?

A: If someone fell over it could dig into them.

Or if they dropped the pencil it could make it a risk if they tried to retrieve it from a dangerous/unsafe position …

A: Richard, you have clearly understated the potential risk. The pencil-wearing operative could fall over launching the pencil into a parabolic trajectory over the parapet wall of the roof. The pencil would then attain near-supersonic speed as it descended towards the road below.

If the pencil had an H2 hardened engineer’s lead it would then enter and puncture a passing fuel tanker causing a huge explosion in an inner city area, causing a catastrophe.

A: A falling pencil from the ear is a fall from height and thus should have a risk assessment.

Imagine that one of your operatives is lying on the ground, working - you lower your head to have a look, and as he turns to look at you the pencil falls, pricks him in the eye and he
is blind.

So yes, a risk assessment is necessary.

To control the hazard I prescribe banning the wearing of pencils behind the ear on site, or issue all persons on site with goggles.

A: Would a slim wax crayon used in place of a pencil alleviate your profound fears?

A: It depends from person to person. As Richard said, from a customer’s point of view it could look unprofessional.

A: Nah - trust me Punita, customers won’t care if you arrive nude, or with a Blobby suit on. All they are interested in is the lowest price, and then expect a Rolls Royce job.

A: Arrive nude with or without a pencil behind your ear? And Blobby has no ears. How the hell do you get round that one?

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