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Pregnancy and dangerous work?


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Hello,

I am just wondering if someone could advise me on this issue. I work in the Education Sector, my role being that of trying to re-engage hard to reach teenagers. A lot of this involves lone working and home visiting in some of the towns most run down places, which are quite rough to say the least, with some quite violent families and young people. I have had many incidents in the past, including being shot at with a pellet gun, and being locked in a crack house! There are many risks, most of which havent really bothered me too much until I became pregnant.

On news of my pregnancy my employer did a risk assessment. The above were identified as high risks. The advice from this was to "use my common sense" and carry on as normal. I wasnt really happy with this, as I didnt think this advice really cut out the risk to my child. I arranged to meet the H&S rep at the organisation. He said that they had 3 pregnant women working off site and we were "testers" whatever that means. He said just follow the policies we have for home visiting and lone working as normal, and if anything does happen out and about or in one of the houses, to let him know as I might not be able to go back there again (isnt that a bit late!) He said in the worst case scenario, if I couldnt continue I would have to start my maternity leave early (what!!!)

I am now six months pregnant and about to ask my manager to review this situation. I don't think I should be trailing around these places anymore, and going to these homes, especially on my own, but it is a big part of the job. I am not sure what my next step should be, or what I should say to my manager, but I don't think that my unborn child is very safe at the minute. Any ideas?

Thanks, sorry for the length,

Jomc

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hi jomc,

try the HSE ( health and Safety Executive ) website Information about health and safety at work and/or http://acas.org.uk

these may have similar experiences on them.

also, are you in a union, and if so, what are their comments on the situation.

good luck

 

baz

Please note that although my advice is offered, you should consult your legal representative before taking ANY action.

 

 

have a nice day !!

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Thank you for your help. I am not in the union, but I will have a look on the hse. I don't want to cause any problems at work and don't want to be unreasonable, I just don't feel very safe doing what I am whilst heavy pregnant.

 

thanks,

Jo

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Hi

 

As an employer myself, and looking at the comments, the risk assessment does not seem at all satisfactory.

 

They should offer you alternative employment within the company if available which you would be happy with , or as they already offered you to go on leave early.

 

I would review your contract, and see what you have signed.

 

I understand that you probably want to work up until the last minute, but to put it bluntly when you took the job on you knew the risks involved. If you are not comfortable at all then i cannot see any alternative apart from to go on leave early.

 

Sorry to be blunt,

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Is there any other work you could do within your organisation until your maternity leave starts, for instance admin clerical? If you are at any risk at all you should be offered any reasonable available alternative work. You could of course approach your doctor who may decide you are subject to stress and recommend you take sick leave until your maternity leave starts. Do you get paid while off sick?

 

Kind regards

 

Ell-enn

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My advice is based on my opinion and experience only. It is not to be taken as legal advice - if you are unsure you should seek professional help.

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As ELL-enn said, you should talk to your HR. The company does have a duty of care towards you and they have already stated that your duties are high risk.

If this fails put in a grievance letter and bring the matter up formally. This puts on record your concerns etc and would help (god forgive) if anything were to happen.

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Thank you again for your replies. I did know the risks, and am fine with them in normal circumtances, it just obviously different at the minute, I am in effect taking one of my children with me to the duty. I have spoken to someone from HSE. They said that by law if a high risk is identified to my unborn child I should be removed from the risk, and if they cannot find alternatives or put correct measures in place, be suspended on full pay until my maternity leave starts, and not start my maternity leave 3 months early. There are other duties that I could do even within my own role, which I would much rather do than be off work extra time. I am going to speak to my manager to ask if I can stop this duty, thanks for all your help.

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The first and foremost purpose of any risk assessment is to establish whether the risk may be eliminated. Where possible the risk must be removed (impossible in your job) or you should be removed from the risk. If your employer has identified that the risk exists then he should most certainly not be asking you to continue exposure to those cases where there is any perceived danger whatsoever. Always remember that the risk need not neccessarily be physical - the worry of a potentially dangerous situation occurring is sufficient to warrant a change of duties on the grounds of stress.

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Thanks sidewinder. I did feel that the risk assessment we did was just a bit of a pointless paper exercise, as nothing come of it. I dont want to be a problem to them, but I dont want to put my baby in danger. I think when I see my manager I will say that from a H&S point of view I don't want to be doing the lone visiting anymore, its just if they say I cant stop. I will have to see what they say, but I will take all your advice. Thanks

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Hi,

I’m really shocked to hear the way you have been treated by your employers it is gross negligence at best.

As a Director of an Occupational Health company it alarms me that you would be allowed to work in such conditions without a “proper risk assessment” been carried out. Obviously I only know one side of the story, which is your but on that basis I would say that you are been treated unfairly.

There is a specific law that protects new and expectant mothers at work and I get the feeling that your Health & Safety chaps is not up to date. When employers receive written notification from you that you are preganat they must conduct a specific risk assessment (New and Expectant Mothers). The assessment must take into account any advice provided by the your GP or Midwife on your health.

If any risks are identified then it is up to your employer to take action to remove, reduce or control the risk. If they can’t remove the risk then your employer must:


  • Temporarily adjust your working conditions and/or hours of work; or if that is not possible
  • Offer you suitable alternative work (at the same rate of pay) if available; or if that is not feasible
  • Suspend her from work on paid leave for as long as necessary to protect her health and safety and that of her child.

I truly believe that what your employer has done so far is a breach of the New and Expectant Mothers Act 1999. It may be worth point out that any breech of health and safety legislation in relation to new and expectant mothers is considered automatic sex discrimination.

If I was to offer you any advice I would say that you should speak to your GP as they can write to your employer to tell them that this may pose a risk to your unborn child. It is worth noting that the stress that this is causing may also affect the health of your unborn child. I would also raise this with your Health and Safety Manager as he should be aware that it is playing on your mind.

The thing that I personally find very alarming is that he stated that some employees are “testers” this is down right negligence.

If I can offer any additional help feel free to contact me.

Robert

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Thank you Robert, this really helps. I will take your advice. I have made an appointment with my line manager on Monday and I am going to bring this up.

I will have a word with my gp if they don't take me seriously. I just think they think I am making up a load of fuss over nothing.

 

Thank you.

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hi boabc8.

thats a really interesting post, and its so good to see that we have professional people here to help. maybe its just me, but i would have thought that ANY employer with even a minute bit of sense would have worked out that jomc's actual job out and about in paricularly rough areas, could be extremely dangerous if things kicked off and got out of hand.

jomc, havent your employers got an employee such as yourself but who works collating info in the office who they could perhaps swap with you for the time being.

Please note that although my advice is offered, you should consult your legal representative before taking ANY action.

 

 

have a nice day !!

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Your employer has a duty of care and you should request formally that the company makes 'Reasonable adjustments' due to the risks identified in the risk assesment.

You could always go through the grievance procedure route if you don't get a satisfactory reply.

 

Regards,

 

Paul.

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  • 10 months later...

Make sure that all your meetings and conversations are documented at, or straight after the events (make contemporaneous notes). This is vital and will provide crucial, credible evidence supporting your case in the unfortunate event that you proceed with formal grievance procedures and take the matter further. The same goes for your past incidents i.e. when the comment "testers" were made, and when "high risk" were identified. Note down date, time, location, who said what and when and any witnesses present.

 

Best of luck. This is really appalling and whilst proceeding a grievance investigation sounds absolutely daunting, it may just be the only way you can get your employer to take this serious matter seriously.

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Boabc8's post is excellent.

 

Just wanted to point out that to the best of my knowledge there is no such legislation as the New and Expectant Mothers Act 1999.

 

The legal rights referred to seem to mainly stem from the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999.

 

Just wanted to clarrify this in case you were searching for a statutory reference(s) for any letters etc.

 

More info here: Guidance for new and expectant mothers – The law

 

Good luck

 

Che

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Hi,

 

....... I truly believe that what your employer has done so far is a breach of the New and Expectant Mothers Act 1999. .......

 

 

Not sure what this Act is??? There are certainly government guidelines concerning new and expectant mothers, but a New and Expectant Mothers Act?

 

I'm not against your advice but I think youre misquoting something there.

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