Risk Assessment at work

Hi I have severe allergic asthma and anaphylaxis and have recently been diagnosed with secondary adrenal insufficiency. I carry inhalers and epipens. Over the last 5 years my asthma has got worse and resulted in quite a lot of time off work. Recently I have started to be unwell at work too so it has been suggested that they need to do a risk assessment on me. I am a primary school teacher and have already seen OH and follow advice from them. I have a meeting next week and wondered if anyone who has had similar could give any advise on what to expect and how to prepare. I thought I could take my asthma and anaphylaxis action plans and reports from OH. Can you think of anything else? I am quite a private person and so only share the minimum with colleagues.

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  • Wow this rings very true. I too have severe allergic asthma and carry epipens. I am a PE teacher in a prep school and have suffered massively this last year. I have now used up all my full sick pay so taking time off work is a struggle. I was back in a&e last night struggling again. I have been started on fortnightly xolair injections and long term steroids which have really helped but still suffering. I saw OH back in October they were really good. I took along all discharge notes from the hospital and consultants letters which state what you have and what you react to etc. They were really helpful and told me what school should and shouldn't be doing to help me and what is classed as reasonable adjustments. I was so worried about seeing them but actually it was quite positive both for me and for school. Hope your ok. Happy to chat anytime.

  • Hello again - I think I replied to your post earlier (we appear to be quite similar). I have seen OH a few times over the past few years but have never been very helpful. I don't go outside for playtime or PE if I'm on high dose steroids following advice from them but other than that they didn't offer much. My school is meant to be calculating absence covered by disability etc but have never got back to me - I've had long term absence for 3 consecutive years and HR have been involved.

    Could I ask how the school supports you as I don't feel very supported even though the HT is lovely? Also do you have a risk assessment? I don't know whether the aim is to protect me or the children? My main allergy is nuts which isn't a problem really as we are a nut free school. I also react to dust, tree and grass pollen, animals and soya which are more of a problem. I've got to a point in my career where I am looking at moving on to a deputy post but always think my medical conditions hold me back at the moment.

  • I think you may have yes. I've only seen them once last October. School for me have mainly been great. Mine has only flared up in the last year. I've always had asthma but never at this level. I have allergies to grass and tree pollen, cats, dogs and dust. Food allergies wise it's citrus which is a big one for me and dairy. School this year have employed extra staff so I am supported in every lesson I teach and if I feel I can't teach I don't I go and do paper work. However that is not a permanent thing as from September I am back on my own which is really worrying. The deputy head keeps saying to me take this term to get better as we need you fully fit for September. That just goes to show that school don't actually quite get where I'm at as this is going to just get better. School also took my form away to give me more time and I don't do duties etc. I am petrified about next year as I don't want to let school down but I do go down with things very easily as I'm sure you do. Are you on xolair or any injections? Xx

  • Wow - that support sounds amazing although I totally get the frustration with expecting you to get better. A colleague with asthma asked me why I was admitted to hospital a few weeks ago!

    I always feel that I let people down. I have a very tricky class this year and their behaviour deteriorated when I was off for a short while.

    I want to have xolair. I was referred to a difficult asthma clinic 2 years ago as my cons thought I would be a good candidate for it but they have taken their time with testing so are still not there. I'm seeing an immunologist soon and so hope to talk to them about it as I have a ridiculously high Ige.

  • Ah ok I was referred to St. George's by Epsom hospital last year. They got straight on it with all the IGE testing etc mine too was at around 900. I have the highest dose injection once every fortnight. They are really good in that I have not actually been admitted to hospital since Feb and have only had 3 a&e trip which when I was going every 3 weeks or so and being admitted each time it is certainly better. By no means perfect but it's helped. Even some people who have normal levels of asthma sometimes just don't get it. I do have one friend at school who suffers with hers too not to quite the same level but she is so supportive and has really helped me. She's the one who has been trying to help me see someone to deal with the emotional side of it all. Have you seen anyone in terms of that? Xx

  • Yes - I saw a liaison psychiatrist at the hospital 2 years ago. I was referred as a GP thought it was all in my head but turned out to be a really positive experience. I didn't need to see them but they identified that I had some anxieties around being ill and in hospital and I was referred to a councillor. That really helped me to deal with being so ill.

  • If you don't mind me asking how old are you? X

  • 33

  • Spooky. Me too. Xx

  • If you need a chat any time I'm here. X

  • We sound as though we are in a very similar boat. X

  • Hi Kayla P,

    Just a couple of things I have discovered during a recent battle with my now ex employers.

    OH in my case was for the benefit of my employer not me. Asthma is a recognised disability and "reasonable adjustments" should be made in your workplace to accommodate that.

    Be wary of risk assessments. If you report a risk and request a risk assessment the employer can say ( in my case ) we don't perceive a risk and will not carry out an assessment. However if the employer instigates a risk assessment it can be used to justify dismissing you.

    The HSAW Act 1974 may help and I think in your workplace, a school, the local authority is responsible. Seek advice.

  • Hi and thank you for your advice. Sorry to hear that you appear to have been through a rough time. It was the school who requested it although as an academy we have our own HR. They were quite good with implementing a few recommendations from HR and I hope/believe it is a supportive thing (I don't think it is at dismissal although it has been quoted that absence is preventing me from doing my job). Maybe I should ask my union for advice though. Thanks for the tips.

  • Hi, I'm also a primary teacher and same age as you. My asthma isn't as bad as yours so although the majority of time I have off would be asthma-related it's only one or two short bursts each year at the moment. However, I have another disability which I needed to do a risk assessment for to agree reasonable adjustments. Before the meeting I corresponded with my union rep, drafted a list of the adjustments I had identified that I needed (medical and linked to my other disability) and provided it to the head. I had a meeting with head, union rep and HR rep and we agreed a final list between us. It was all positive and supportive but I'm very lucky with my HT. She allows me flexible time out of class (overall I take less than I'm entitled to so don't feel bad for taking it when needed) including planned lie-ins or unplanned extra lunch or going home early on occasion, which usually mean I have very little time off.

  • Wow that sounds great! My HT is supportive in that she listens to me but has only just realised how hard it is to have all my appointments in PPA (I have several health conditions and see cons across several hospitals). OH suggested not going outdoors for duty or PE when pollen is high and everyone knows not to bring pets into my room. I like the idea of lie ins as my asthma is really bad in mornings so I could potentially return. Do you have a risk assessment in place? I'm sure how they would do this but am getting in contact with my union.

  • I have a list of the adjustments I need on file - although not really in a risk assessment format it says what to do in certain situations which is pretty much the same thing. When is assembly at your school? Could you have an agreement where your ta registers your class and takes them to assembly and you arrive during assembly?

    I don't often use the lie-ins but a couple of times (mainly after residential) it has probably stopped me from needing a week off work. Same with going home early- hardly ever do it but on the occasions I do it prevents me needing longer off. The more frequent option is taking one lesson out of class either first thing or just after lunch - that happens probably a couple of times a term on the orders of my head who can tell I'm not coping.

    When my asthma is bad they prompt me to take medication as well which is a massive help as I tend to be stupid and just keep going.

  • I do that too - people have to tell me I am struggling. Assemblies won't work as we have them at 10.30 but might suggest it to OH as I think that would help me (and them) rather than having the whole day off. I think the risk assessment is more about anaphylaxis but I suppose it all comes under duty of care.

    You're head sounds amazing!

  • She's pretty good yes!

    You probably should have had a risk assessment for anaphylaxis before now tbh - we do all the care plans for the children but I have had to really push to get my medical needs recorded and make sure key staff know.

    When we go on trips I tell the first-aider what to do myself just in case but my issues aren't as likely to be life-threatening as yours so you probably do need something more formal.

  • Totally agree - everyone has epipen training for the kids and it never really occurred to me that people needed my action plans until I had a reaction to some something at school (I think nuts but we are a nut free school).

  • Hi I have had problems in work with chemical reactions such as smoking perfumes etc. I am now in a room of my own at work because of it which has made it a bit easier but still suffer. Your work has a duty of care to look after you. Try to figure out what your triggers are so you can avoid them. Hope all goes well xx

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