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Scarey work stiuation - HELP!

(22 Posts)
Twiga Tue 15-Mar-05 21:24:55

I'm four months pg and work in a residential unit for adolecents.

My work situation has taken a scarey turn this week, on the shift I've just come off one of my collegues was assaulted twice over a 24 hour period. Tonight the unit is equally volitile from what I've managed to gather with the added problem of ex-residents turning up and being equally abusive to staff. Tomorrow there is just myself and one other - there really needs to be three of us - I'm not allowed to intervene in any confrontational situations (as per my risk assessment)which would leave just a single collegue on the main floor tackling any trouble. Also tonights events have left the office unsecure due to the door taking a hefty kick in - this is supposed to be where I go in event of trouble. Am really worried about going in tomorrow and certainly don't want to be there overnight. Frustrated as can't back my collegues but certainly don't want to be in the firing line just now. To top it all our management is either off sick or on holiday so very little support to turn to. Can't in all honesty phone in sick and don't want to make a bad staffing situation any worse.

Am going to try phoning the one manager we've managed to get support/help from who is quite high up and dicuss the situation with him. Not sure if it will help, not really sure if it will leave me in a position where I have no choice but to go in. Not a member of a union, which I'm sat regretting this evening. Really quite concerned .

ps. sorry if your on my due in thread for the repetiton but thought separate thread my help pull in some advice.

lucy5 Tue 15-Mar-05 21:36:43

phone a union anyway, they will help. I dont think this sounds like a good situation to be in.

Twiga Tue 15-Mar-05 21:39:40

Will I have to join before they give any advice? Don't mind joining at all, only reason not member just now is in nearly 2 years just haven't got round to it.

colditzmum Tue 15-Mar-05 21:42:16

You have a duty to "work as trained". If your risk assesment says you can't be involved in a confrontational situation, you can't be involved. If you get hurt, and it all goes to court, yur manager can turn around and say "We told you not to, it's your own fault."

If I were you, I would insist on that door being fixed berfore you set foot in the place again.

milward Tue 15-Mar-05 21:42:44

Just a thought - what about health & safety at work? - is it that when you're preg you can only do work that is safe for you to do? - this sounds very risky - due to understaffing & no safe room for you. Hope you get some answers.

lucy5 Tue 15-Mar-05 21:44:43

you dont have to join first for over the phone advice but if theres a union linked to your place of work, phone them, might be able to help because of exisisting membership.

Twiga Tue 15-Mar-05 21:51:06

Colditzmum, I certianly wouldn't be looking to tackle a confrontational situation but it's scarey to sit in an office and feel that your collegue is at a higher risk because you can't help and that because of poor staffing they have no back up. Judging from last shift best I can do is make the relevent phone calls where needed and keep the recording up to date.

Will pursue down union lines if can't get sufficient backing/cna't get hold of the manager that has been trying to support our team over last day or so.

Twiga Wed 16-Mar-05 07:47:53

Have been awake on and off all night worrying. Spoke to dh theis morning before he left for work and am going to get a Drs appt asap with a view to being signed off at least until our direct line management is back. Lots of factors including the fact that when things are very difficult in the unit, it can delay meal times due to having to lock down the kitchen for safety reasons. We start shift at 2pm and on the last shift didn't manage to get anything to eat until gone 10pm. Had a mc in July and have worried though out this pg so far on and off, couldn't live with the thought of having put this pg at risk.

polkadot Wed 16-Mar-05 18:53:31

Does your workplace have a union accredited health and safety advisor? You would not need to be a union member to raise an issue of concern with them eg unsecured environment and they would take it further with management.

Whizzz Wed 16-Mar-05 19:12:32

You should not be expected to carry out work which is putting you/baby at risk. If you have done a risk assessment & it says that you should not intervene in any trouble, then that is what you should follow & your employer shouldn't expect you to do anything different. If doors / escape routes are not secure & they are needed for your safety - again you shouldn't be expected to work under those conditions if it is putting you or others at risk. If you haven't got back up for your colleague - then it sounds like that is down to poor planning of the work rota & again - you shouldn't be made to feel bad. I am a H&S manager so let me know if you want further advice. HTH

Twiga Thu 17-Mar-05 10:07:56

Thanks for all the replies to this, am off again today and have Drs tomorrow in the morning as well as midwife appt in the afternoon. Can honestly say it'a been a relief not to be in work.

Whizzz, there seems to be so many grey areas as far as our management are concerned. I've raised issues like food before especially as the current group of young people we have in think it's funny to interfere with the food whether that's spitting in it or adding other items such as washing up liquid, salt etc. There is nowhere for staff to store food of their own except lockers, so I'm really having to be careful about things - whenever I'm cooking for the unit I stand and watch the food constantly etc.

I've put a wee collection of cereal, bisuits and juice in my locker but it's no subsitute for a proper meal at a reasonable hour. In discussion with my boss it's been suggested that I bring in my own food and it's my responsibilty to take the time to eat etc. I can understand this but with nowhere safe to store meal items and an inability to acess the kitchen when things are difficult - I feel stuck on this. Unfortunately at the min I feel really sick when I get hungry and pre-pg had difficulties with low blood sugar when hungry which is worse now I'm pg.

That's just one example of a small thing which added into the overall picture is not helping me feel ok at work - sorry to go on for so long.

Can you also give me any advice on the overnight working thing - my shifts run from 2pm one day until 2.30pm the next, if there is three on someone gets to go home and is back in for 7am. On the later part of the shift we don't go off duty until 11pm and if things are unsettled could be up for long periods into the early hours ie sleep is not guarenteed on shift. Thanks x

Whizzz Thu 17-Mar-05 19:57:29

Twiga - heres the official blurb on this HSE Website
In the first leaftlet it actually mentions the risk of violence at work - they shoudl remove or reduce the risks if possible. You really should not be expected to work under any conditions that could harm you or your baby. It also mentions reducing hours - 12 hours is a long shift when you are pg. Definately worth taking this leaftlet & trying to discuss it with your employer. You can even contact the HSE directly for advice (they really are quite friendly). PLease do let me know how you get on & I am glad to offer any advice I can. Let me know if you want any more info

MissChief Fri 18-Mar-05 08:49:40

not sure if you're in NHS? If SO, should contact yr HR advisor urgently, also your childcare co-ordinator & UNISON rep.They should be looking to change yr type/place/hrs of work if deemed necessary on grounds of yr health & safety, sounds like it would be.

Twiga Fri 18-Mar-05 09:47:38

Thanks Whizzz - have used that leaflet already to set up the initial risk assessment, HSE website is very good and helped me have an understanding of what to ask about. My Dr has signed me off for the next fortnight. Spoke to one of my managers this morning to let them know and they are now going to look into setting things up like a separate fridge etc and seem keen to sort some of the practical things for when I go back. Thanks for your support.

MissChief unfortunately NHS are not my employer, it's local authority with the usual story of stretched resources and under-staffing in residential social work. As I was saying to Whizzz, it looks like being signed off has given my work a bit of a kick up the behind in terms of sorting out some of my worries - we'll see!

Whizzz Fri 18-Mar-05 19:38:23

That sounds a bit more promising Twiga, let me know how you get on. Best of luck & try not to get too stressed by it all

Twiga Sun 03-Apr-05 12:59:41

Hey, just nipping in to up-date, went back to work yesterday and just wanted to be home again. None of the things were in place that they said would be and the situation still very volitile and unsettled. Am in again today overnight into tomorrow, just hoping I'll be one of three so I can get home to sleep. There has been some chat about transferring me to another unit which is currently being used to look after a family of four all under the age of 6 due to no foster placements (they don't want to split them up) avialable to take them at least in pairs. This would be a very straight fwd childcare situation, no problems with behaviour, getting off duty on time at night and not being kept up etc. They seem to be well set up for dealing with pg workers as one of the current staff members there has just gone on mat leave. Been asked to give the move some thought and will meet with my boss on Weds to discuss - think I'll be taking it.

Whizzz Mon 04-Apr-05 18:57:18

Hope it works out OK Twiga - that does sound like a better set up.

Twiga Thu 14-Apr-05 10:22:50

Just another up-date: finally had meeting with work on Tues and they've decided there is no need to transfer me after all - desptie a child trying to trip me on the stairs at the weekend, although to be fair he was put up to it and didn't realise how stupid he was being. They have however said they will ask H&S for advice on maybe changing my shifts so I don't work so late and on taking me off the sleep-in part altogether - needless to say I'm not holding my breath! Only 7 working weeks to go so am just counting it all down now and hoping things will be fine. Will try and take as much annual leave infront of mat leave and maybe whittle it dwon to 6 working weeks.

ja9 Thu 14-Apr-05 14:07:06

sounds crappy twiga. hope ur managing to keep your chin up... remember,


dont let anything take away the joy that should be in your heart at this really exciting time.

lots of love

MissChief Thu 14-Apr-05 14:12:32

wouldn't feel guilty if you need to take sick leave - in public sector too and just had message re (lazy) colleague who again is off sick (been so for weeks on and off since Jan mainly on pet-leave as far as we can tell!) -she's got an elbow problem! She's got a desk job yet unable to come in and they're covering for her 3 days a week! makes me sick when I've struggled in every day despite feeling crap for much of pregnancy, ditto another member of my team - why do we do it? guilt and sense of obligation, sometimes misplaced I think!

Twiga Thu 14-Apr-05 14:41:28

Thanks guys! TBH I really shouldn't be duprised at the outcome as my employers aren't good with every day stuff and ordinary workers, so why I thought being pg would make a difference I don't know.

Ja9, not a chance, been feeling the little un move about for a few weeks now and it's just the best . Must remember to email you re: visiting!

Whizzz Thu 14-Apr-05 19:31:36

I hope they can change your work pattern Twiga - they should do if its at all possible - in line with H&S Regs. Best of luck & keep us posted

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