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Can I speak to HR about my anxiety over colleague's health?

(211 Posts)
SilverRingEarrings Thu 21-Feb-19 18:43:58

I share an office with another woman and have done for 5 years. She has documented health problems concerning her lungs and breathing. She's been hospitalised at least once each winter.

This year has been particularly bad but she is still coming into work. She looks ghastly and her breathing is very laboured. She admits to feeling unwell.

I am really, really scared of her collapsing and having to try and deal with that situation on my own. It keeps me awake at night. I have never seen anyone so poorly that hasn't been in a care home or hospital tbh.

Our manager is in the same wing but isn't always there. I could be on my own when something happened to her shock

Will HR be able to do anything? I unofficially raised it before and was told she cannot be sent home.

WorraLiberty Thu 21-Feb-19 18:46:34

I wonder if they'd be willing to send you on a first aid course?

Most companies need at least a couple of qualified first aiders.

Would you be happy to do that?

SilverRingEarrings Thu 21-Feb-19 18:48:07

No, I wouldn't. I don't want that responsibility.

Tomtontom Thu 21-Feb-19 18:49:43

If you don't want to do a first aid course, and you know how to call 999, what do you want HR to do?

minieggsqueen Thu 21-Feb-19 18:49:50

@SilverRingEarrings it's deffo not your responsibility OP, I wouldn't want that either. Nor would I like to be anxious at work all day and stressed because another colleagues (obviously awful) health is causing that.

Why is she still working if she's so unwell? Surely she should be signed off and receiving sick pay?

Washingproblem Thu 21-Feb-19 18:49:56

Is there anyone else who sits near you who does have a first aid certificate and would know what to do? I think that just finding out this information could help you feel calmer.

WorraLiberty Thu 21-Feb-19 18:50:17

In that case, all you can really do is call an ambulance if your colleague does end up collapsing.

SilverRingEarrings Thu 21-Feb-19 18:56:21

We're quite isolated, as we're at the top of a corridor. If something awful did happen, I'd have to leave her to run and find someone.

One potential would be moving us to share with more people.

I haven't a clue why she's still working, although I suppose it's usually money. It's certainly not my company blush grin

YahBasic Thu 21-Feb-19 18:56:52

We have had similar concerns, but around a colleague’s mental health and HR have got OH involved.

Crunchymum Thu 21-Feb-19 18:57:00

Do you know what her issues are? I know she doesn't have to divulge but it could be something that will reassure you?

Is she hospitalised because she collapses? Or is this just your fear?

I'm an emetophobe so I do understand your anxiety.

Nesssie Thu 21-Feb-19 19:00:57

Wow this poor woman is just trying to do her job despite obviously being unwell and you are concerned about how you would feel if she collapsed?
If you aren’t willing to do a first aid course then all you can do is call 999. There’s really nothing else to it and to be considering talking to HR because you are scared is ridiculous.
If your anxiety is keeping you awake then you need to seek help for that.

DaisyDreaming Thu 21-Feb-19 19:02:05

Oh god please don’t try and get you both moved to somewhere with more people, that will drastically increase the amount of germs she’s exposed to and make things even worse

minieggsqueen Thu 21-Feb-19 19:03:59

@DaisyDreaming surely if she'd be that at risk being near more people she shouldn't be working though?

I don't see why she hasn't been signed off for recovery. If it's terminal or a long term issue I would appreciate if my colleague would tell me! It's not fair for OP to be stuck worried all day. She's not a bloody doctor, she doesn't have a duty of care towards this woman.

DaisyDreaming Thu 21-Feb-19 19:04:07

Can you have an open conversation with the lady? Don’t tell her how anxious you are but say you’ve noticed how unwell she is and you aren’t sure what you should do if she becomes more unwell. I have health problems and just tell people around me to call 999 and hand over the letter that’s in my bag

Ylvamoon Thu 21-Feb-19 19:05:17

What is your relationship like? Can you talk to her? If yes I'd try and have a chat with her. I know this is not the same but I have had in the past colleagues with asthma/ allergies - and both were brilliant in telling us where to find inhailer / EpiPen & what else to do in an emergency. Maybe she can give you similar reassurance?

DaisyDreaming Thu 21-Feb-19 19:05:59

People with health problems shouldn’t be shut away in their houses though, as long as she’s managing work and it’s not making her worse (which is a discussion for HR, the lady and her doctors) and should be allowed to work. She can’t avoid germs totally but being in an office with one person is much lower risk than in a busy office with everyone coughing, sniffling and ‘working through’ what ever they have

Nesssie Thu 21-Feb-19 19:07:10

1. Maybe she enjoys working? Maybe she doesn’t want to be stuck at home?
2. It’s none of you business what is wrong with her
3. I’m sure whatever she is going through isn’t ‘fair’ either.

OPs response to this isn’t normal and that’s on her to sort out, not the other woman.

Debruary Thu 21-Feb-19 19:07:23

Could you ask to move offices due to your anxiety?

Saucery Thu 21-Feb-19 19:07:58

I think more people in the office would be a good solution. If her condition means she may collapse then even if you were prepared to administer First Aid it wouldn’t be any good as the first principle of First Aid is to send someone else to summon professional help.

Roomba Thu 21-Feb-19 19:08:24

Reading with interest as my mother is currently in a similar situation. She's had to phone an ambulance a couple of times or run out to find help when her colleague has experienced epileptic fits (sometimes really injuring herself too). HR are pressuring my mother to do a first aid course, but she has mobility issues herself that make it hard to get down on the floor and administer help. She's really worried something awful will happen and she'll feel helpless and responsible in some way.

Hwory Thu 21-Feb-19 19:09:05

People who suffer with long term illnesses cannot be forced onto sick leave when they’re struggling / recovering. That’s a straight ticket to sickness related termination.

LIZS Thu 21-Feb-19 19:09:59

Is she likely to collapse or are you thinking worst case scenario? If she is chronically ill there may be a risk assessment or if she were not able to indicate what you should do you would call 999. What happens when you are off, is there a lone worker policy?

SilverRingEarrings Thu 21-Feb-19 19:10:05

you are concerned about how you would feel if she collapsed?

Yes, of course I am- being a human being and not a preprogrammed robot. If I had to phone 999 I wouldn't hang up the phone and feel perfectly cheerful, would I now?

WorraLiberty Thu 21-Feb-19 19:11:33

If her condition means she may collapse then even if you were prepared to administer First Aid it wouldn’t be any good as the first principle of First Aid is to send someone else to summon professional help.

The first principle of First Aid is to phone an ambulance and do what you can to stop the person deteriorating, before paramedics arrive.

Hellywelly10 Thu 21-Feb-19 19:16:59

I dont think its your place to go talking to HR about your collegue. This is between her, her manager and HR.

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