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Help with OH&S - Cycle in the Office

CookPassBartridge's picture

By CookPassBartridge - Posted on 20 April 2011

Hello all, I work in an office in Sydney CBD. I cycle my pride and joy in every day and park her in my office (behind my desk). My office is on the 10th floor which is served by 6 lifts, which I use to get the bike up there.

A colleague of mine who is a fellow cyclist was lambasted by the building manager stating taking a cycle into a lift was an OHS issue. It seems if a cycle is in a lift and there is a fire, it's dangerous or something. NB the lifts are wide enough that people can get out whilst the cycle is in there.

We are expecting a letter from the building management to ban bikes on the grounds of OH&S.

I just wondered if anyone knew enough about OH&S that would allow me to counter this. I.e. cycles are permitted in lifts if xyz...

Locking up my pride and joy in a carpark or bike cage is not an appealing idea... so if there's anything you can recommend, please let me know.


shano's picture

If there is a fire then should then people are told to use the problem if your in the Lift.
If a bicycle is an OH&S issue what about shopping trolleys or strollers/prams...
No help from me but best of luck.

Rob's picture

Surely this is a joke? Perhaps they would think it safer if you put on 100kg and blocked the lift entirely? Sad

Ask the manager for access to the goods lift to transport your bike if they insist you cannot move it with the regular one.

Oh, Google found this, although who knows what particular regulation the building manager is trying to use:

Lifts are not currently included in the definition of plant under the OHS Act so they are not covered by the provisions of Part 4 - Plant of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 1994 (the Regulations). There is no legislative requirement for employers in the Commonwealth jurisdiction to design register or license lifts.

CookPassBartridge's picture

Thanks Shano.

And yeah, I don't quite understand the mindset in this so cooled environmental aware time we're living in.

Yes they do use trolleys and have many deliveries which are more obstructive and plentiful then cycles...

If it comes to it, I'll buy a Brompton (folding cycle, with 'class') but would rather not go down that path!

CookPassBartridge's picture

Thanks Rob, and I wish it was a joke. I doubt we'd be having the same discussion if the building manager cycled himself... but probably one of the number of irate Sydney 4x4 drivers.

But I've seen this sort of thing done before, in London, when they banded cycles from the over-ground trains...

NB I had to double check the word 'irate' was a real word, and not an Apple product.

Logan's picture

Unfortunatly one of my bosses hates my bike being in the office and the building I am in doesnt provide facilities so I park my bike a few blocks away and then walk the rest of the way.

Very frustrating when management are blinded about these things.

CookPassBartridge's picture

Frustration indeed Logan....

Ever had any issues re bikes stolen etc.? Do you have to pay for the privileged of chaining up your bike in a car park?

herzog's picture

Have you looked at commuting on a cheaper bike? That seems to be the go at my work. People have their nice weekend bike and the "beater" which is used for the daily commute and gets chained to the racks in the carpark downstairs.

I could imagine the lifts thing becoming an issue if lots of people started doing it.

Logan's picture

No fortunatly the place where I leave the bike is underground and very well monitored, so dont have to worry. Not to say it couldnt happen but I dont worry to much. Hopefully we are moving offices in the near future and will start looking for something soon.

@ herzog

In my case I normally do 70k's training before I get into the office and dont want to do this on a beater.

CookPassBartridge's picture

the hack bike tis a good idea...

The it's been dismissed previously because the road is so rough on the ride in, I either need front suspension or a gum shield...

And when you start talking suspension, you start talking a reasonable cost bike...right?

The Brown Hornet's picture

I recall reading about similar situations on this website-

When I get in to work tonight I'll try find the exact topic.

I can't believe that this still goes on. I really feel for all the folk out there who don't have adequate facilities. All 4 of us on shift at work ride in ( a combined total of almost 1000km per set of 4 days) and our bikes are separated from those who would steal them by 3 locked doors. We have 5 showers, a drying locker, lockers for clothes, and a full kitchen. Admittedly the facilities were not put in place for cyclists but we''ll sure take 'em!When the brass pay a visit to the station they always joke about how many bikes there are, but they NEVER say a negative word about them, and have even asked if we are happy with the space they are parked in.

CookPassBartridge's picture

Sounds like a good work place! Thanks BH, let me know how you go...

Logan's picture

Is that employers dont seem to see the long term benefit of people riding in and how it can help their business. Its fair to say that I am probably the fittest person in the office here by a long way and some of the benefits of my fitness is that I am very rarely off sick ill, I tend to get in earlier than most cause I leave at 5am to train and most importantly I am alot happier once I have trained and been on the bike.

This all leads to increased productivity, however alot of companies, mine included seem to want to obstruct this type of thing.

HeezaGeeza's picture

If there was a facility in the heart of the CBD that offered secure bike storage, coffee shop, changing rooms (maybe showers), dry cleaning and bike servicing - would you pay a fee each month like a gym membership (but less and no requirement to sell two kids before you can leave)?

CookPassBartridge's picture

Hi Heeza Geeza,

in answer to your question, on principle, no.

Bikes take up such limited space in our office based on the volume of people that cycle in vs. that don't that space is not an issue. We have showers at work, so there is no cost there.

If 100% of people cycled in and space because a real issue, I'd want to see my employer doing everything they can to maximise the space for bikes before I'd consider paying.

We've plenty of poorly utilised space which could be freed up, bike racks to stack bikes etc.

Let's not forget, one of the trade offs for the risk we take in dodging the traffic is a cost benefit.

CookPassBartridge's picture

Logan, here here (or is it Hear hear??).

If I didn't cycle, I'd have to spend longer in traffic, and also less time at work as I"d have to do additional exercise. Also on principle, I'm a stubborn b*stard and would do less hours "just to show 'em" Eye-wink

Incidentally, I left the office 9.30pm last night (in at 8am) grumpy, hungry, tired. By the time I got off my cycle at home, I had a big smile on my face...

garyinoz's picture

I use the goods lift in our building, enter through the loading dock, never an issue. I would seriously ask if you can use that, I'm guessing it does have one? Once on my floor the bike goes into the server room out of harms way.

Good luck!

Rob's picture

@garyinoz: server room?... How cruel! Eye-wink

CookPassBartridge's picture

"I use the goods lift in our building, enter through the loading dock, never an issue. I would seriously ask if you can use that, I'm guessing it does have one? Once on my floor the bike goes into the server room out of harms way."

Yeah, out of harms way until it falls over, taking half the mission critical servers with it...

We don't actually have a goods lift, we have the regular lifts with curtains up over the (wait high and above) mirrors. No risk to these delicate bits of reflective glass from the bikes, so I don't see the issue.

Hasbeen Racing's picture

Ask for a copy of the OH&S regulation stating bikes are not allowed in lifts. I'm guessing they won't be able to produce one. Then politely discuss their concerns and hopefully you'll be fine.

herzog's picture

"In my case I normally do 70k's training before I get into the office and dont want to do this on a beater."

Do the commute on a heavy clunker with knobs and you will get the same workout without doing the 70km training session!

I've noticed that I'm getting less of a workout since I put slicks on the commuter. Might have to do the commute on a DH rig Smiling

Logan's picture

cause then I wont look Euro cool in my Lycra.

ps's picture

My company gave me a shirt to wear in their team in the sydney to gong. I think they were the number 1 team.

Tommy's picture

I had a similar issue when I had a real job. When I was told I wasn't allowed to keep my bike in my office, I said, look sorry I don't own a bike lock, you provide me a bike lock and shut the garage space, secure the area and I'll be happy to keep my bike down stairs, as I have heard of many storied of bikes being stolen. Alternatively when its stolen, you will replace my bike.............By the way, its gonna cost you 7 grand, do we have an agreement?

That shut building management up fast.

hawkeye's picture

If that's an actual quote, about the bike causing a problem in the lift if there's a fire and people need to get out, that's quite funny. Be confident the guy is ignorant and is making stuff up: directing people to use lifts in a fire scenario is a breach of safety rules that can cost lives.

Personally, I'd be looking to escalate to the guy's boss: the building manager has a training issue amongst his staff and needs to be made aware of it. Doing so politely in a professional manner has the benefit of sending the signal that you're not going to be an easy target.

Your last option would be to find employment with a cycling friendly employer. Ability to cycle to work is fairly high on my list of criteria for considering an employer, probably fourth after being well managed and profitable, providing stimulating work, and providing sufficient good quality support and training.

You might like to mention your concerns to your employer's HR department in the context of talent retention. Leading companies use the provision of end-of-trip facilities for cyclists as a means of attracting and retaining the best talent. They have realised that a fit and healthy workforce is a more productive and less stress-prone workforce. Then get them to get the building manager to either rescind their backward policy, or provide secure bike facilities like the rest of the best building managers who like happy clients.

CookPassBartridge's picture

Hawkeye... you're actually quite clever for a mtb'er!

What a terribly informative and articulate message, thank you.

I can't say my employer has a good track record when it comes to 'choosing the employee over their ultimate', but this could be a win win....!!!!

Lordy lordy, I'm a little over arguing with faceless polices and organisations... that's one of my main bug bears from living in the UK. "Computer Says No" mentality.

hawkeye's picture

We have secure bike parking - card access cages, pin pad lockers and video monitoring - at most of the sites I work, so I don't have much excuse for being in the lift myself.

There was one building where those facilities weren't available, so I used to carry up in the lift and park in the compactus room with about 4 other bikes. The one time I was challenged by security there I successfully met it with a comment to the effect that I chose (this company) over other employers because I specifically asked and was told that cycling to work and a secure place to store my bike were not a problem.

The unstated threat was that he was possibly going to have an uncomfortable conversation with an unnamed senior manager to explain the change in position if he was going to stick to his guns. He yielded, so my conclusion was he was just being officious and was making it up as he went.

Interesting to note he was obese, and didn't last long so I suspect our encounter was symptomatic of other issues.

obmal's picture

Yeah he's probably was one of those obese cyclist hating four wheel driving members of the shooters party nature loving bush walking conservationist dirt bike riding types who wants to ban single tracks, shoots in national parks and wants to give guns to the kids.... I know the type... those bastards!!!
He's just being pompous because he's got a bike rack in his pants..

herzog's picture

"cause then I wont look Euro cool in my Lycra."

I think you need rather than nobmob!

Noel's picture

This is the act:

These are the regs, that support it:

A great deal of it is about risk assessment: and risk management:

a bit of it is to do with who and who does not, of course, and who gets a say.

Rob's picture

@Noel... management summary please! Eye-wink

Noel's picture

Sounds like he needs to provide facilities for bicycles. It's reasonably foreseeable that people will ride bicycles to work. I don't know what the greater plan is for secure bicycle parking in Sydney CBD buts it's going to become more of an issue. The place you store it during the day is more significant I think than having it in the lift, which I don't think is an OHS issue, it's a minor inconvenience for some people. If the place catches fire and you're prepared to leave your bike burning away next to your PC while you rush down the stairs, I can't see any problem, so long as the bike is not blocking people in, or restricting access to things that people need to get to.

Have fire drills identified issues with cyclists? If so, address the issues, which might be that they need to be communicated to where to keep their bikes, or to leave them up there in a drill. If the drills have not id'd issues with bikes then, no issue. If no drills, then naughty-naughty, for your building manager and employer.

Discodan's picture

I interpreted the initial issue as being if you were in a crowded lift with a bike then people wouldn't be able to get out of the lift quickly. Easy to shut down (i.e. what about courier trolleys etc etc) but still one to think about. Once it's in the office then you should be fine.

I used to store my bike behind my desk in my office but was asked to leave it downstairs on the basis that it didn't project the professional image we were looking for which I get. There's nothing as offputing to a CEO as a bike covered in a drying jersey etc

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