View Full Version : Advice re taking mobility scooter to work

02-12-14, 13:03
I am intending to buy a portable/boot mobility scooter next year but in the meantime I am hiring a Pride go go for a month. I have mentioned at work that while I will not want to bring it to work every day (due to difficulties getting it in and out of the car) I may on some days, e.g. when I want to leave the office at lunchtime. I have previously mentioned to another manager we share office space with that I am looking to get a portable scooter in the near future and she has been planning where it could go in an informal way (she sits near to me so we were just chatting casually about it)

However, my manager has said I cannot bring it into the office as there is not room. My "office" is not a proper office and more a through area where they have put 3 desks and just dumped us there last year when there was a bit of a reshuffle with office space and they didn't know what to do with us. There are 3 of us plus the other manager plus front line staff traipsing through when on breaks etc. The other manager is fine about me bringing it in and welcomes the opportunity to tidy up the area and get rid of some unnecessary shelving but my line manager says we need to contact HR first and maybe get Occupational health involved. His view is that it's not essential like a wheelchair and that it's unlikely I will be able to store it in the "office". I have said it is essential and no I can't get around without it (I have to get colleagues to fetch things for me and phone or email colleagues elsewhere because I can't walk to them and most lunchtimes I spend at my desk because I can't walk anywhere).

Anyway, I don't have a problem really with other people getting involved especially as I am planning to involve Access to work with the hope of getting funding towards buying a scooter. But I am now worried that my manager is going to be obstructive and it's all going to take ages (took 8 months to get a chair sorted for me). He compared it to bringing a bike into the office.

Has anyone got any advice on how to handle this? When I get my permanent scooter this may need to addressed in a more official way but for now I am hiring the scooter for one month and will be off over Christmas for 2 weeks of that month. So it's just a case of finding a suitable place to store it where I an access it but others do not trip over it. Like I say, the other manager doesn't see a problem with it - she likes the area to be tidy and there is a shelving unit that has next to nothing on it (except stuff that probably needs to be thrown out) and some unused trolleys. If those are moved there is a suitable placed to put it where it wouldn't be in the way but would be near enough for me to access.

02-12-14, 18:15
Your line manager sounds a right 'numpty' if you don't mind me saying.

If anything it should be Health and Safety that get involved.

They will look at your workspace and surrounding area. It might be the case that the scooter is considered a fire risk if it blocks a narrow foot pathway / corridor.

The Health and Safety officer will over0ride your line manager and suggest a suitable 'compromise' spot that you are happy with.

At the same time ask H&S for a personal evacuation plan and ask for a dedicated 'fire marshal buddy' if you haven't got one.

02-12-14, 18:22
Your line manager sounds a right 'numpty' if you don't mind me saying.

I won't disagree with that!

The place we have in mind for the scooter does not block any corridor and will actually be adjacent to 2 cupboards so anyone walking through that way has to walk a path clear of the cupboards anyway. So they won't trip over the scooter.

The other manager who is in the office (who was there before our little team was put there a year ago so really it's her office space primarily as it's used by her staff also) doesn't have a problem.

Our office space is, in general, ridiculously cramped though. I had a workstation assessment but that was in my old office. desk and chair unchanged but surroundings very much so. I'm happy to run it past health and safety etc. but I'm worried this will all take so long I will not be able to bring the hire scooter into the office at all because my manager is being pedantic about it all.

02-12-14, 18:36
Catlover, my advice, take it or leave it, phone the Head of Health and Safety and just say that you're a disabled person who is planning on bringing your scooter into work next week. You'd really like for them to meet you in your workspace, when they are free this week, to iron out any hiccups they may be about where to park the scooter or is that a problem?

That way your issue goes right to the top of their priority list and they will come and see you. Once arranged invite your line manager to attend. If he can't make it don't worry as you were only being polite asking him as his weight counts for nothing in this situation.

This way you are following a 'procedure' and as such have full clout If you just plonk it between cupboards he can ask you to move it to the reception area of the building if there's room.

Best of luck and I'm sure things will work out satisfactory.

09-12-14, 08:02
My manager has done a bit of a U turn on this in his attitude but unfortunately the situation is complicated by the fact that the organisation I work for only lease the building. The buildings manager has vetoed the idea of taking a mobility scooter into staff areas of the building. We printed off some information re the type of scooter I am getting with specifications but she has said it's still too big. We aren't entirely sure what her reasons are as my manager first mentioned something about carpeting (which doesn't make a lot of sense - would they refuse me access in a power chair if that's what I needed?) but then said something about he thought she was perhaps worried from a health and safety point of view about me using it to get around indoors and bumping into people. My manager now says he wants to support me but he is annoyed that H.R. won't take this up (he asked them and they hadn't a clue) but I think that's just because he doesn't want to have to sort it out. He'd rather someone else took it up.

I don't have the energy to fight this right now as I've enough on my plate getting my PIP reconsideration in this week so will have to leave it until after Christmas. I've given my manager food for thought by pointing out that with the winter weather approaching I may not be able to get into work some days if it's frosty or icy underfoot. I also pointed out there were 2 issues to tackle - getting into work (and out at lunchtime to buy a sandwich etc) and getting around when at work - and that if I was not allowed to bring the scooter into the office I would need to use something else in the office such as an electric wheelchair. He talked about further assessments re how far I could walk etc. and I thought s*d that I've just been through all this with PIP I'm not doing it again for work!

23-12-14, 15:39
Hi catlover, I realise it's been a few months since you posted but I came to this forum looking for advice on the same issue.
My situation is that I use my mobility scooter every day in the office but someone on the health and safety committee has suddenly decided that I am a health and safety risk as I go too fast and might hit someone. (I don't and haven't of course).
They are saying that I should not be allowed to use it and have referred me to occupational health, presumably so that they can report back that I don't really need it.
They have suggested I get an electric wheelchair. I have pointed out that they tend to be larger and heavier and go at the same speed as scooters. I have told them that powered chairs and scooters are both class 2 invalid carriages and therefore the same thing in law.
They seem to think that it is perfectly acceptable to try to prevent a disabled person from using their mobility aid. I am currently awaiting a meeting with my Union rep as I'm not going to let it go.
Do PM me

23-12-14, 16:55
Hi fiendishie

It's only a couple of weeks since I posted so still something I am trying to work out.

I totally agree with you that both chairs and scooters are class 2 invalid carriages and go at the same speed. Some power chairs are as long as my scooter.

I don't need to use a chair/scooter in the office all the time and not in my immediate office area but I could do with having something to hand for when I need to go further afield. I have tried to explain to my manager that what I need is somewhere to park up the scooter where it's not in the way of other people but is nearby for if/when I need it. On some days it will be there all day and only used at lunchtime. On other days I may want to use it to go to other offices, meeting rooms etc. If they want to buy me an electric wheelchair to sit in the office for those occasions then they are free to as long as I have somewhere to park my scooter and can then use the wheelchair to get from scooter storage to office! Which seems unnecessarily complicated.

On Friday the other manager in my office took me aside when my manager was out of the office and asked me what was happening re the scooter. I had to tell her that my manager was doing nothing about it and she is appalled that he is doing nothing and said if it was one of her staff she'd be sorting out something. I suggested that I brought it in for a trial period then we could have a meeting with the buildings manager, health and safety and anyone who wanted to be there to discuss whether it was workable on a more permanent basis. She said she would do exactly the same. But unfortunately my manager just will not sort out stuff like this (my chair at work is also not working properly and he is doing nothing about that either). We are facing job cuts in February so I am wary of being seen as being awkward.

23-12-14, 19:27
You are quite right to say that a class 2 power chair and a class 2 scooter have the same limitation - 4mph. If anything, a power chair tends to be heavier than a scooter, so the energy on impact is higher.

I've been a power chair user for 11 years and I've only hit one person - a friend of mine who walked out of a room into the corridor I was travelling down without looking. I let go of the joystick and had slowed considerably when we made contact with each other. In fact, I've had worse accidents in the days when I was a manual chair user - on level marble floors you can get up a lot of speed!

The safety issue isn't so much the chair or scooter, but that other people aren't expecting something to be moving almost silently around the building and have learned to rely on hearing if someone is walking in the area as they move around concentrating on something other than where they're going and who is around them. My worst accident was when I was in a shopping centre in a manual chair and a man walked out of a shop into my path reading a magazine rather than looking where he was going.

It disturbs me slightly that the response of employers when a question is raised about the acceptability of an employee provided aid in the workplace is a referral to occupational health with the apparent agenda of making what the employer perceives to be a problem go away.

The primary question faced by an employer under s. 39(5) Equality Act 2010 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/39) is whether accommodating the employee's aid in the workplace is a reasonable adjustment. This involves balancing all the factors including the detriment to the employee of not using that aid, the availability of alternative aids (if they want you to use a power chair, it may well become what the Act terms an "auxiliary aid" that the employer has to pay for), the effect of that aid on the employer and the effect of that aid on other users of the building such as your colleagues. There is guidance online from the Equality and Human Rights Commission about reasonable adjustments in the workplace (http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/private-and-public-sector-guidance/employing-people/work-place-adjustments).

23-12-14, 22:37
Thanks Flymo, I've seen that page you linked to before. It's useful but it isn't quite specific enough for my purposes.

I have told my managers and the health and safety people that they should be making sure the office is safe for me to bring my wheelchair in, not trying to stop me from being 'allowed' to use it. It's quite maddening. En masse they seem to think that a powered wheelchair= poor disabled person and mobility scooter= comedy fat lazy person in a shopping mall.

As for buying a chair as an auxiliary aid for me to use in the office, how can it be considered acceptable for your employer to dictate what sort of mobility aid you use? I'd feel silly in a chair, given that I can walk 10 or so metres unaided. Plus it would take away my independence completely. I lift my scooter out of my car myself, presumably I wouldn't be able to lift one of those big powered chairs.
I'm wondering what on earth will happen with occupational health. I am fortunate enough to get DLA high rate mobility so I'm thinking of just taking that piece of paper along and telling them that there is nothing for them to do or say because the DWP and Atos have been there and done that.

My Union rep seemed confident that they would see the error of their ways so I will see what happens after Christmas and report back.

24-12-14, 09:00
En masse they seem to think that a powered wheelchair= poor disabled person and mobility scooter= comedy fat lazy person in a shopping mall.

Totally agree. Whilst scooter users in general can almost certainly walk further than power chair users in general, with the advent of portable scooters I think it's difficult and dangerous to make assumptions about someone based on the type of mobility aid they use. I'm sure many power chair users can walk as well as or better than myself, but I find a scooter to be the most practical mobility aid for me for a number of reasons. But I do think that people think scooter and immediately think of elderly people whizzing around shopping malls at top speed on their 8mph scooter! And also make the assumption that they may be just too lazy to walk. The same assumptions tend not to be made about power chair users. I suspect things may have been different if I'd said I wanted to start coming to work in my wheelchair!

14-09-15, 07:50
Thought I'd give an update on this.

I have now been given permission to bring my scooter into the office and my managers have made space for it (I've actually moved offices since I originally posted and now would be unable to walk from car to office without the scooter or from shopmobility - where I've been storing my scooter - to the office). I have a new manager and she had a chat with the buildings manager and initially got the same response but she didn't let it go and asked why not. It turns out there were lots of misunderstandings and the buildings manager, apparently, asked lots of dumb questions such as why did I not use an electric wheelchair etc. (and which my manager seems to have answered very well - instead of explaining why she basically said it was none of her business to pry into why I used a specific mobility aid) and it turned out she didn't have any real objections and did not know how small my scooter was. It has now also been agreed that the buildings management are going to make alterations to the doors so that I can get through them easier, although I'll believe that when it happens. The buildings manager admitted that at this location they had simply never needed to make these sort of adaptations for disabled employees. So I'm a trail blazer!! ;)

14-09-15, 08:52
Seems like your new manager is very disability aware, all to the good. Hope you get the alterations done soon.

14-09-15, 09:32
Automatic opening doors. These can be quite expensive so self refer to Access to Work who can pay for the work needed.

14-09-15, 12:24
LT - Access to work will not pay for adaptations to doors - I've been on the phone to them only last week and was informed this is employer's responsibility and not something they would contribute towards.

As far as the internal doors go apparently they can easily fix something that will keep them open all the time but they will close if the fire alarm goes off. external doors into the building are a bit more awkward.

14-09-15, 14:42
As far as the internal doors go apparently they can easily fix something that will keep them open all the time but they will close if the fire alarm goes off. external doors into the building are a bit more awkward.

Corridor doors are usually fire doors on pneumatic openers that need electricity to work. When a fire bell goes off the electric is cut to the magnets keeping the doors open. Now the problem starts as power has been cut - you have to open the doors by hand.

Now the heavy duty fire doors will weigh three times as much as the compressed air n the cylinders can't escape and holds the doors shut - catch 22.