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PPE and health and safety advice - please help - sorry long post

(7 Posts)
Clargo55 Tue 25-Feb-14 20:55:52

Not sure if I should post this here or in the legal section, so please let me know if it would be better suited there.

I have a few questions in regards to PPE (safety footwear)
- Can I have any choice in the shoes provided?
- Can I contribute to the cost to obtain something more suitable?

Basically my employers are now enforcing that safety shoes are worn after a colleague suffered an injury to her foot (factory setting, no machinery, no oil or chemicals and no heavy lifting)

However, they are being really awkward with me and trying to make me use shoes which I feel are unsuitable.

The first choice of shoes were Clogs, I said I'm happy to wear anything that fits and is comfortable to stand in for 8+ hours a day.
some colleagues did not like the 'look' of these so demanded another option. They were offered a slip on type of full shoe (roughly 50:50 split of styles between colleagues).

The shoes arrived the following week. I tried the clogs on and could hardly get my feet in them (clogs size7, I take a 6.5 sometimes 7). The also had quite a big heel on them and no way to keep the feet in them at the back. I kept tripping over and slipping out of them.

I reported this to my manager who wanted me to keep them and 'break them in' as they couldn't be returned?

After a week of wearing the clogs I had bruises across the tops of my feet, I found them unbearable to work in. I then went back to my manager and asked if I could have a pair of the slip on shoes instead like the other half of my colleagues.

My manager sighed and said 'there's always one' and asked me to leave her office while she looked into it.

In the meantime I picked up a cheap pair of steel toe-cap timberland boots of ebay to protect myself in the short term.

When I went back to work the following week my manger informed me I could not have the slip on shoes as they did not do any sizes between a 6-8. Instead she offered me a couple of others to choose from, I chose the pair she wanted me to have from the selection. These arrived soon after in a size 7. I was called in to my managers office (carpeted room) to try them on. Unfortunately they were way too big, so need to be returned for a size 6.5. My manager was not happy about this and asked if I could just get on with them anyway. After hesitation it was agreed to order the size 6.5. These arrived today and my manager gave them to me to try on in the factory floor (concrete). I tried them on and they fit perfectly, I then stood up and nearly fell straight over. The bottoms of the shoes were so slippery it would be completely unsafe to use them.

At the point my manger was really unhappy, muttered FFS under their breath and walked back to their office.

Around two hours later my manager came back to me with two picture and said these are your only choices, do not ask for anything more. The first choice were from the same company as the ones I had just tried on. My manager wanted me to choose these, but I was concerned the bottoms would be just as slippery. This sent manager into a rant about how much money I had cost them and it would be easier to exchange shoes with the same company.

In the end I have chosen the second choice, which come from the same company as my colleagues with the slip ons.

However, I am really worried about what is going to happen when these shoes arrive, if they do not fit. They have been ordered in. Size 7 as they do not stock a size 6.5.

Is there anything I can do? My manger has warned me I can be disciplined if I refuse to wear them.

LondonForTheWeekend Wed 26-Feb-14 08:46:54

You are required by law to wear PPE provided/stipulated. You can and will get sacked if you refuse to wear appropriate PPE.

However, clogs which leave your feet blistered etc are clearly unsuitable so you have to work with your manager to resolve this. The difficulty it seems to me you have at the moment is that you have (in your manager's eyes) joined The Awkward Squad- not a good place to be.

Safety footwear does not normally come in half sizes. So you are quite lucky in that respect. I would be looking to provide you with thick socks to make up the half size. (I personally would be doing serious eye rolls at a person saying something a half size too large was "way too big").

In your position I would try to accidentally bump into the safety manager and have a quiet but constructive word. "I am struggling with the shoes provided, I want to get a pair that fits and feel safe, I know it has been a pain for [manager] please can we have a chat about how to best resolve this."
Hopefully the new ones will be OK. I would advise you, once this is resolved, to say something to your manager to acknowledge it has been a PITA for them, and definitely make sure they know you are not in The Awkward Squad.

WhoWasThatMaskedWoman Wed 26-Feb-14 08:55:27

Is there nothing you can do to give the ones with slippy soles more friction? Scarify them, or even attach winter grips. I get that it's not exactly your fault but if I were your manager I'd be reaching for the gin.

flowery Wed 26-Feb-14 09:37:32

Sounds like they've given you bags of options. Of course you need to wear them, and I'd suggest thinking of constructive ways to make them ok, such as insoles/thick socks if too big, doing something to the soles if too slippy, etc.

Clargo55 Wed 26-Feb-14 19:38:59

Thanks for the advice everyone. Sorry it was so long, not sure what was relevant or not.

Manager said I could not alter the slippery shoes? Would be good if we could as they fit really well. May try and discuss this again.

The health & safety guy at work is the managers husband. Every time he gets asked a question he has to ask manager as he's not sure of the answer.

Last week a couple of colleagues were talking about having headaches and asked him if we had carbon monoxide alarms. He said he did not know and to put it in the suggestion box. Which gets looked through roughly every month.

Also does anyone know if there's any legislation about standing for long periods? job could be done seated, but we are made to stand all day. A couple of my colleagues are also pregnant and finding it a real struggle.

lastnightIwenttoManderley Thu 27-Feb-14 21:13:05

OP, i work in construction so different scenario but similar problem. I have size 2 feet which complicates matters.

There should be a particular class of shoe that you are required to wear. Your employer should provide these if they are a requirement for your work but in my experience most don't have a problem with you purchasing your own provided you demonstrate that they meet the correct standards. You will need to keep tabs on any changes but this should give you more flexibility with types.

If the timberlands are to the correct, current standard then this may be acceptable. The rating should be inside the tongue.

BrownSauceSandwich Thu 27-Feb-14 22:07:18

Are you a member of a union. A local H&S rep, or the regional H&S union officer would be able to give you and your colleagues a tonne of advice about all this stuff.

Regarding the shoes, never mind eye rolling and hitting the gin... If it was so much of a bloody chore for them, your employer could have asked you to find protective footwear yourself,and reimbursed you up to a reasonable cost.

Carbon monoxide, or any air quality concerns, get in touch with your council's environmental health department. Anybody can report any employer/workplace to them in confidence.

Standing or sitting, there should be a risk assessment written for your work, and it should (for any workplace that includes women) accommodate the possibility that somebody may be pregnant. If standing in one place for long periods puts a strain on your back, then your employers needs a very good reason not to provide suitable chairs or stools. Certain types of work can't safely be done while sitting (eg: lab work with hazardous materials), but if hat's the case, it should be absolutely clear in the risk assessment.

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