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Ribbing at work how to handle when an emotional wreck

(13 Posts)
spudnik1 Wed 24-Jun-15 07:25:57

Ok there's a bit of a back story first so bare with me.

I am 26 weeks, i work in a lab, i told work at 7 weeks that i was pregnant, so they could do a risk assessment.

Haven't had a risk assessment yet, but just have been doing everything in a fume hood with gloves etc.

Unfortunately an item of equipment which was in the fume hood, broke 3 weeks ago which was used to evaporate solvents off, Since then our alternative has been out in the lab as it wont fit in the fume cupboard.

I mentioned that i wasn't happy with this as everyone is inhaling solvent fumes pretty much constantly all day. Response to which was i'll order one tomorrow, only tomorrow never came.

Then last wed i ended up in triage have not felt the baby move since early morning and having spotting. All is well baby heartbeat heard and no spotting since, movements have slowly increased back to normal over the weekend.

The next day i went into work dragged my boss and his boss into an office and demanded a risk assessment, pointed out the equipment problem, and explained what happened.

Their solution is to ban me from the lab.

I feel very guilty about this as all my practical work has been dumped on everyone else.

My problem is how do i cope with the ribbing i'm getting ie being called lazy using pregnancy as an excuse to sit on my bum having everyone doing my work.

I know they are only doing it in joke, but it is really hitting a nerve. I need to learn to let it just wash over me. Any suggestions?

KatyN Wed 24-Jun-15 07:36:43

One quick set of tears and they'll stop the ribbing!!!
That or play up to it. When anyone comes out if the lab, put your feet up on the desk or pretend to be napping.

Can you do their desk based work while they cover your lab work??

lilwelshyrs Wed 24-Jun-15 07:44:11

Whoa... Can they do that? Can they actually ban you from the lab? Isn't that discrimination?
I work in a male dominated environment and they rib me about my pregnancy - stuff like "ew, your flaps are going to be hanging down by your knees like elephant ears!" Or comments like "you shouldn't do X Y Z because you might damage the baby", "childbirth doesn't hurt, a kick in the balls is much worse - men don't want to get kicked in the balls a second time whereas women have more than one baby!!".
I am usually left gob smacked at their childish remarks. Best way to deal with them is to either ignore it, play along or tell them to do one as you shouldn't have to put up with their attitudes towards you. It's bullying!
Saying that, all I do is laugh and walk away. It hurts to hear it but I don't want them to think it's upset me. The next port of call is telling your manager - but your boss doesn't sound very helpful either.
Attitudes towards pregnant women in the work place, especially in physical jobs, are so archaic! I'm one of 3 women in a very large workforce of men!

But seriously, i dont think your boss can ban you from the lab... And they have to do a risk assessment... It's not that hard. You've probably freaked them out because they've not had to do one since risk assessment training... And most certainly wont have had to do one for a pregnant woman!

ButEmilylovedhim Wed 24-Jun-15 07:44:17

God, how terrifying, you poor thing. Can you find some anger and snap back at them? Do they know the full story? If not, I'd tell them and burst into tears for good measure, that'll sort it. They shouldn't be 'ribbing' you. I hate all this, 'it's just banter' bollocks. No, it's hurtful.

As for feeling guilty, bollocks to that too. You were quite happy to do your work, did all the right things and took risks that were out of your control to keep doing your work and that might have had tragic consequences. Now, eventually the bosses have realised, that at the very least you could sue the company and have put you on office work (I'm guessing). About bloody time! Find your anger, my love! I hope the rest of your pregnancy is happy and uneventful. flowers

SweetAndFullOfGrace Wed 24-Jun-15 07:50:25

They are allowed offer you a suitable alternative job if they're unable to make the job safe, but they have to do a risk assessment first.

This is useful and has a list of contacts who can help further.

lilwelshyrs Wed 24-Jun-15 08:08:22

Yes, an offer is fine but an outright ban?

neomamma Wed 24-Jun-15 08:41:15

ultimately they can suspend you on full pay if no suitable alternative job can be found, so "banning" you from the lab is a sensible approach while they explore what options are available. it's not a punishment, they are (slowly it would seem) doing the right thing to protect you smile

Skiptonlass Wed 24-Jun-15 08:43:01

stay out.... I used to work in one too and from my risk assessments, there's just too much risk (depends what kind of lab you were in but mine was heaving with bad shit.) gloves aren't as much protection as you think, for example - chloroform goes through nitrile gloves in about 20-30 mins. It depends what kind of stuff you're doing, but if I were you, I'd stay out. Solvents, radioisotopes, viruses, even running gels is a no no. It sucks.

The key is to embrace it - I'm assuming you're an academic? Then get heavily into statistical analysis. Be the stats lady. Tackle those stats packages no one else really understands. Go to conferences. Write abstracts. Do more teaching. Write up book chapters, write grants, write papers. Get some PhD students in to do the wet work...

It's immensely frustrating I know, but you either put up with the shits who are ribbing you (I know how bad the politics cane be) or you embrace it and make yourself indispensable smile

Don't snap, don't cry. If anyone uses the word banter at you, come back with, "ahhh, banter. That's where someone gets to say something really offensive but if the person bites back they're a humourless shrew, right? Nice one..."

Skiptonlass Wed 24-Jun-15 08:49:22

Oh and join a union and log it all with HR. They're utterly useless in academia, but it's always good to have a paper trail. Your boss /PI should have done the risk assessment as soon as you asked, and crucially, NOT allowed you to be exposed to anything in the interim. Save your emails.

AmberLav Wed 24-Jun-15 09:06:45

Great advice ftom skipton - in my job the risk assessment is pointless, but it was designed for jobs like yours, where there are actual risks. I would have thought that lab work would be potentially hazardous (I'm sure it can be for non pregnant people)for you and baby, and no one is ever going to test for the actual risk, as that would mean putting baby at risk.

if there is ever a time to develop a thick skin, pregnancy is it, as after this you will have un-asked for advice on all aspects of your life - that is sadly one of the effects of pregnancy, and children can be little "darlings" when they want to be too. Go with the hopefully good natured banter... good luck!

addictedtosugar Wed 24-Jun-15 09:12:43

Yes, following a risk assessment, if they cannot keep you and baby safe, you can be kept out of the lab.

What are you using? Here, there were two chemicals (one since substituted out) to be avioded. Solvents were generally OK.

Love SkiptonLass's retort. Don't think they even need to mention Banter, you can just use it anyway.

She's also got a load of good advice about how to use your time - I guess another 10 weeks or so? You might not be able to do the wet work, but there are loads of other things that can be usefully done - not academia, but here it would be ordering, paperwork, writing things up, prep'ing presentations. ie the boring stuff that noone likes doing - make it better for those doing your practical work!

Congrats on your pregnancy flowers and cake

spudnik1 Wed 24-Jun-15 17:01:06

Firstly thank you everyone, you've made me feel better.

Surprisingly today has been absolutely fine, i think someone may have said something, because i haven't had a single comment all day, don't know how long it'll last fingers crossed.

I have taken on a load of the boring paperwork that no-one ever wants to do statistics, ordering, routine admin, boring as anything but i only have 9 weeks left ( full years holidays to take tagged on to front of mat leave)

Skiptonlass Wed 24-Jun-15 18:24:35

Good luck! Really, take advantage of it. I had to be 'out of lab' for three months once due to a serious injury that left me on crutches and only half mobile. I couldn't open doors/carry anything so was unable to safely work in there. I went insane for a few weeks then learned how to use the array software and stats stuff. It actually ended up being a positive experience and I learned a lot about stuff that I'd never have had time for otherwise. Got a grant in and a paper knocked out too, plus proofed a load of other people's papers. Once people see you're being useful, they'll maybe change their tune.

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