What are my rights to refuse to do this aspect of the job?

(8 Posts)
JenLindleyShitMom Tue 15-Nov-16 17:53:46

I work in retail. One aspect of the job involves bringing deliveries in. No problem with this, I expected it. However our shop is on the first floor and there is no lift. Delivery drivers (rightfully) leave deliveries either in the shop down stairs or in the yard out the back accessible only by our fire exit steps (those big steel ones). The steps get slippery in the rain and covered in that green slime type stuff over time. the deliveries left inside aren't usually too bad as they aren't often large but the ones left outside are usually 1 or 2 pallets of boxes containing glassware/kitchenware or bedlinen. Myself and either my manager or other colleague have to bring them up the steps. Although there have been occasions where deliveries have arrived when only one staff member was on duty so they have to do it alone (whilst also serving customers and watching the floor hmm) It has to be done as soon as delivery arrives as it is a shared yard and the gates are left open. also, it has no roof so if it rains the boxes get soaked. This kills my back. The boxes are heavy and once in the shop we use a dolly to move them but obviously we can't do that on the stairs. I got really angry whilst carting a massive delivery in yesterday as my back was twingeing on and off. In my head I was swearing and vowing never to do this again.

Our company owns the building our shop is in but they have refused to install a lift (for customer use) due to cost and I have no delusions that they will install one for deliveries.

I will have been employed there for 1 year at the end of this month. Do I have any legitimate grounds for refusing to lift these boxes up the stairs? I suspect the company director will tell me to see myself out if I refuse to do this. Can I be fired for this?

LifeLong13 Tue 15-Nov-16 18:06:11

I'd ask to see the risk assesment for a) the fire escape b) the activity of bringing in deliveries.

The fire escape/stairs risk assessment should say it needs to be kept clean and clear of obstructions.

When I worked in retail the assistant manager kept leaving the delivery in front of the fire escape. The manager kept telling her that was voiding the risk assessment. Assistant manager wouldn't listen because she was a class A pleb. One day when on the assistant manager was working and the fire escape was packed with delivery the fire brigade turned up after receiving an anonymous call to say the store was breaching fire regs. They saw the delivery blocking the exits, fined the store and the assistant manager was disciplined for flaunting H&S.

Are you sure your area manager knows? Maybe have a chat anonymously with your local fire brigade? See if they could pop in? wink

AnchorDownDeepBreath Tue 15-Nov-16 18:08:41

Potentially. If it's included in your contract as a duty, and you don't do it, you'd potentially be breaching your contract. Before you've got two years service, you've got few employment rights anyway - unless it's do with a protected characteristic, they don't need a reason to get rid of you. They do need to follow any processes they've documented in your contract/handbook.

If the lift had stopped working, you'd have more grounds to complain, but it sounds like this has always been the case? Do you know if a health and safety audit has been carried out?

The best thing to do is going to be to speak to your manager, explain that you think it's unsafe and take the conversation from there. At the end of the day, though, if everyone else is fine doing it (or at least not going to complain), you might just be better off finding somewhere else to work.

ElizaSchuyler Tue 15-Nov-16 18:09:47

Have you done any manual handling training? You also need to ask if a risk assessment has been done?

If neither are forthcoming I'd say you were within your rights to refuse.

AyeAmarok Tue 15-Nov-16 18:25:18

This sounds like a personal injury claim waiting to happen.

BreakfastAtSquiffanys Tue 15-Nov-16 18:28:29

How does the shop satisfy disability access regulations with no lift to shop floor?

JenLindleyShitMom Tue 15-Nov-16 18:43:46

We had a recent "surprise" H&S inspection by the council a few weeks ago. In reality they called to give us two weeks notice of when they were coming. My manager organised someone to come and wash the fire exit steps and we cleared all the boxes from the fire exit door and hallway that leads to it. I had to come in half an hour before my shift that day to sign records saying that I had received H&S training the week I started the job. (I hadn't) and I had to read through a H&S booklet and answer a questionnaire about where our fire escapes and fire extinguishers were. That is the extent of my H&S training including manual lifting. I guess that counts as me having been trained?

When we bring in the boxes one person carries them tin the half way point on the stairs and stacks them there. The other person brings them the rest of the way up and sets the on the dolly (which blocks the fire escape door.) yesterday the process took about 40 minutes during which time there were boxes on the stairs throughout and a dolly at the top of the stairs.

How does the shop satisfy disability access regulations with no lift to shop floor?

I have no idea.

I will speak to my manager although she is very much a martyr to the company and despite already having physical difficulties which I am sure make this task very painful she just moans but gets on with it. She is vocal about her fear of the director's temper and won't ever challenge him for fear of being sacked. The other staff member is very new and hasn't yet had to do this task.

JenLindleyShitMom Tue 15-Nov-16 18:44:49

TBH I am thinking I will have to look for something else but would prefer to stay in this job if possible as the hours suit my DCs school hours.

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