Blames Health and Safety
Organisations often cite “health and safety” as a reason for discrimination, because people are scared to challenge it. In some cases, staff working for the organisation are badly trained and may genuinely believe what they are claiming, in others it is being used as an excuse.
You may be able to use some of the following resources to challenge ‘Health and Safety’ claims:
- Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Myths in our Regulations page
- Assistance Dogs – A Guide for All Businesses by the EHRC
- Access to Taxis and Premises – webpage by Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK)
- NI Direct, Travelling with Guide Dogs covering Northern Irish DDA
Ask the organisation to provide their proof
It is always worth asking the organisation to provide a credible citation for their claim, such as a safety regulation document or copies of organisational policies.
While there are sometimes legitimate Health and Safety issues, often there are workarounds or adjustments which organisations are legally required to consider instead, as part of their anticipatory reasonable adjustments duty.
Health and Safety and Codes of Practice
The EHRC and ECNI Codes of Practice have lots of information about health and safety considerations.
It is common for discriminatory organisations to claim a building issue cannot be changed because the building is listed. What the law says, is that where there is a “physical feature” which causes access issues, then the organisation should either change the feature or find some way to avoid it where possible. While the law on disability access does not override listed status, it is rare accessibility cannot be improved somehow.
Information to request when ‘listed’ is claimed
- Proof that the organisation has asked their landlord about improving the access (if it is a leased building),
- Proof the business owner has sought professional advice (and followed it) or attempted to make a planning application for changes.
- If adjustments are possible, but deemed too expensive, ask for proof that the organisation has requested a quote for the adjustment work (and see our affordability bingo-square).
- Copies of correspondence to landlords and planning authorities,
- Copies of planning refusals and costs estimates.
You can find more information in the buildings section of our Regulations and Guidance pages.
Listed buildings and Codes of Practice
Similarly to health and safety, and listed buildings, if an organisation claims they can’t allow access due to a third party organisation’s rules, then ask them for proof of this. Ask them to send you a copy, and give you details of this external organisation so you can independently check.
Once you know the name of the third party organisation, try looking online for any rules yourself or contacting them directly and politely asking them “Do you have rules about X” and if they do, ask to see a copy.
If there is no evidence external rules, or the so called rules don’t say what they are claimed to say, challenge the original organisation firmly for their claims and remind them they need to provide access or you shall complain.
Liabilities of agents/employees in Codes of Practice
If you find staff or employees have been dishonest with you about access issues you may wish to read up on the liabilities of employees and agents in the Codes of Practice.