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People who know about workplace risk assessments for pregnant women...

(29 Posts)
kickingking Wed 31-Aug-11 10:18:24

I am going to tell my employer (primary school) that I am 7 weeks pregnant later this week. Not looking forwards to that at all!

I know that in the past, risk assessments have not been done for other pregnant teachers. I'm not sure how they got away with that, but I know that they didn't do them.

My own risk assessment will be complicated by the fact that I am also T1 diabetic and, therefore, the pregnancy is classed as high risk. I am not sure how my employers will be able to carry out a risk assessment on that without input from me and/or my doctor, as I know most people wouldn't realise what the additional risks to me at work actually are.

Any advice on how I can make sure that a risk assessment gets done (and soon), how to make sure it's for me not a generic 'pregnant person in workplace' one, and how to approach it so that my boss doesn't end up thinking that I am foolishly risking life and limb by getting pregnant with diabetes? Really worrying about this.

MrsHuxtable Wed 31-Aug-11 10:22:29

I'm pretty sure your employer has to do the risk assessment in "collaboration" with you and take what your doctor says into account.
What my GP did was write me a fit note with amended duties where she described what I would not be able to do.

kickingking Wed 31-Aug-11 10:25:41

thank you, I didn't think about the fit note.

I think it will really just be things like not doing a playground duty so I have a chance to test my blood levels mid morning and making sure I don't miss my lunch due to some crisis with a child (which happens quite a lot!)

BellaCB Wed 31-Aug-11 11:58:46

Do you have a union rep who you could use for support if your initial request for an assessment, or the assessment itself, doesn't go as planned?

I'm luckily desk-bound myself but I have close friends who are teachers and one did take a union rep along for a second meeting, as the school were refusing to give her a key for the only nearby toilet!

lisakell Wed 31-Aug-11 13:23:57

I've done a few Maternity risk assesments for staff within a retail environment but I would imagine the process would be the same wherever you work. The risk assesment should be done as soon as possible after you tell your employer you are pregnanat. It should be done with you so you can have input into what you feel you are able or unable to do - only you know your own body and how you feel. Remember though that this should be reasanable for both you and your employer - not simply an excuse for the pregnant person to make excessive demands (I have before had someone demand reduced working hours and dropping of any supervisory responsibility on full pay and benefits from week 6 even though they were having a normal preganancy and were office based!) The most important thing to remember is that your risk assesment should be an ONGOING review - how you feel and what you can do at 10 weeks wills be very different at 20 and 30 and if it isn't being reviewed as your pregnancy progresses make sure you ask for it to be done. Remind them that doing this is for their benefit too as if they work alongside you to keep you working in a way that is ok for you the chances of you needing to take extra time off through being unable physically or mentally to do your job is much lower - good luck!

LoveBeingIgnoredByMardyBra Wed 31-Aug-11 13:28:42

Ask them when they plan on doing it when you tell them. Also make them aware of any adjustments you feel are needed as well. Maybe have it written down to hand over.

LauraSmurf Wed 31-Aug-11 14:01:41

Hi, I am also a pregnant primary teacher. My school had a generic risk assessment that was put into place when i told head (10weeks). But then I had a couple of complications and so we added an addendum to the risk assessment. Also most good heads will take into consideration your own feelings. I.E. I am happy to teach dance, but no other form of PE while 2 other teachers who were pregnant decided otherwise, 1 taught all PE 1 taught none. Also i flat refused to do playground duty from start of second trimester (had to fight for this one a bit I will admit). This is the only point i had resistance on, but they still agreed!

pamplemousserose Wed 31-Aug-11 14:11:23

I think your requests would be very reasonable, especially with your diabetes. A fit note from your GP is a very good idea.

melliebobs Wed 31-Aug-11 15:13:13

I work for the NHS and since i announced my pregnancy have to have a risk assessment on a monthly basis, as obviously things change and some risks will become greater than others. Your risk assessment should be done between yourself AND your boss as how are they supposed to understand the risk as your the one there on the 'front line' if you will. As for making sure it's relevant, the template for my risk assessment is part of our maternity policy and is quite detailed. But if yours isn't there and your concerned about it being a bit general there are loads of templates on line to get you thinking about what areas you need to be covering

pinkytheshrinky Wed 31-Aug-11 15:19:37

Hang on why can someone not do playground duty when they are pregnant - real life presents many more challenges for the pregnant body and playground duty!

Also testing blood sugars takes less than a minute even with the hand wash - perhaps you need to ask for continuous monitoring whilst you are pregnant.

festi Wed 31-Aug-11 15:22:45

I would imagine there is a generic risk assesment, that would be ammended if and when required. It is also your responsibility to ensure it is completed so dont just assume it has been done, if not talk to HR.

festi Wed 31-Aug-11 15:24:37

why not P.E or playground duty but dance o.k? seems to be a bit choosy to me.

Oeisha Wed 31-Aug-11 15:33:50

Yup, get the support of your GPs people and offer their details (or any specialists) to your employers so they can't say they weren't offered all the help possible form you. As soon as you notify your employer you're pg they are expected to make reasonable adjustments to your work life to ensure a healthy pregnancy, and thus risk assess formally.

If you're primary teachers there's a good chance they've got most of the 'general' risks worked out (time on feet, travel expectancies etc) but make sure you review it and are happy with the arrangment. Whilst I know they exist and are a useful guide, they should never just place a 'generic' risk assessment on you, as risk assessments are meant to be specific to the task/person.

The HSE website has very useful info on it, as well as guides on risk assessing HSE

Specific things to take into account:

1) temperatures - don't let yourself get too hot for too long.
2) lifting, especially lifting with twisting
3) time on feet (a common limit and one I have is 5h in any one working day)
4) adequate breaks - where you can actually rest, not just not on the 'front line'
5) hydration - make sure you have access to fluids

OP, as you're T1 diabetic, they may want you to see occupational health...they may not...but don't be shocked if they suggest it.

Oeisha Wed 31-Aug-11 15:35:16

I meant to say:

If you're primary teacher, then you're probably LA employed thus there's a good chance they've got most of the 'general' risks worked out (time on feet, travel expectancies etc) but make sure you review it and are happy with the arrangment. Whilst I know they exist and are a useful guide, they should never just place a 'generic' risk assessment on you, as risk assessments are meant to be specific to the task/person.

and good luck one and all!

LauraSmurf Wed 31-Aug-11 15:46:30

Festi, I said yes to dance but no to others as i rarely demonstrate dance as my TA was a semi professional dancer for 10 years in her 20's and I got kicked out of ballet at age 7!

Also dance dosent involve balls or bats flying about. I love teaching gym but would hate to teach it without being able to correct posture and support rolls etc.

As for playground duty, the same concerns about balls etc. But mainly I am concerned about having to intervene in fights (a regular occurence in my area).

spannermary Wed 31-Aug-11 19:58:48

Good luck! I am in a similar position, although without the diabetes. I am 8 weeks pregnant and I think because of my morning sickness I am going to need to tell my Headteacher tomorrow. I work at a Special Needs school and 1 of the kids in my form hits out because of his condition, so I need to figure out how to deal with that. Good to know that most LAs have risk assessments - I'll have to see if I can get hold of ours.

Let me know how you get on - and I'll let you know too!

Spanner xx

pamplemousserose Wed 31-Aug-11 20:01:52

Festi, did you not read the op, she needs to check her blood sugar levels in breaks, and presumably have something to eat so she doesn't go hypo

kickingking Wed 31-Aug-11 21:17:19

Thanks all. It has been helpful to hear about other people's experiences of workplace risk assessments.

Festi - most teachers opt out of playground duty when several months pregnant as the risk of getting knocked by a ball or running child is too great. Sometimes you have to do break up a fight as well. Doing playground duty normally means you don't get a chance to go to the loo, eat or sit down all morning - which is why some teachers opt out early on. For me, playground duty is also my only chance to check my blood sugar, which I need to be doing more often in pregnancy.

I have a feeling my news will not go down well, I am with a union but dread the thought of having to go down that road.

kickingking Wed 31-Aug-11 21:23:49

Testing blood is really quick, but it needs to be done where children can't see - if I am on playground duty I will be with children from 8.40-12.30 without a break and depending on how things go, four hours could be too long to go between blood tests.

cupofteaplease Wed 31-Aug-11 21:30:47

I am a pregnant primary school teacher and I didn't have a risk assessmentat all. I was doing playground duty until the summer holidays (when I was 27/28 weeks). I am going back next week and will be 34+ weeks and will not have playground duty only because the rota has changed, so my responsibility will be assembly instead, otherwise I guess I'd be back out on the firing line grin! I think as you have additional needs with your T1 diabetes, you should push for proper breaks. Good luck and congratulations. smile

stressheaderic Wed 31-Aug-11 21:33:52

I am a secondary teacher and wasn't allowed to drop break duty until 6 months pregnant. I was also allowed to stay in one room rather than the 11 room changes a week I usually had.
Good luck - it is very hard and draining being a teacher and pregnant, I brought my finish date forward to 33 weeks as I was having such an awful time.

pinkytheshrinky Wed 31-Aug-11 21:43:37

But surely in those 4 hours one would pop to the loo, could you not test then - to be quite honest with you it all sounds a bit like it is common sense. I know sensible precautions have to be taken but really are people concerned about flying balls as a risk to pregnant women?

Scaredycat3000 Wed 31-Aug-11 21:52:03

Pinky I assume you have never worked in a school? I was support staff for several years and have nothing but admiration for the hard work that most teachers do, just walking down a busy corridor could be dangerous, many would get no break all day. The OP really needs to look after herself.

stressheaderic Wed 31-Aug-11 22:27:39

Pinky - we have 4 mixed toilet cubicles on ground floor. I have 2 half hour breaks per day. It takes 10 mins to dismiss class, pack up my trolley on top floor, walk to lift, wait for lift, negotiate 1000s of students on ground floor, queue for toilet... I usually don't bother and wait until 3.30 and use a student toilet near where I'm working.

Flying balls and other items, fights, swarms of kids running at staff to get past = an everyday occurence.

Panzee Wed 31-Aug-11 22:40:19


I did duties when pregnant but just slacked a little. We had benches outside so I would sit down if tired. I stayed away from the 'danger areas' and didn't get involved in any fights. (I didn't have any additional complications, however)
If your school isn't forthcoming with a RA I advise you to write your own and hand them a copy. You can put all the adjustments in yourself then.

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