Pregnancy in the Workplace

It is vitally important to be aware not only of the legislation regarding pregnancy in the workplace but also the possible dangers that a pregnant woman may be faced with when working in certain industries.

Although not all the medical risk factors will be present or apply to your industry it is important to know what they are in order to avoid a breach of the legislation put in place to protect pregnant employees.

It is also sometimes considered that an employee who is in an administrative position is not exposed to any risk factors, this however is a false assumption.

Employees who stay seated or standing for extended periods can develop back ache and/or varicose veins. This is also the case for employees who do manual labour.

Another factor that should be  considered is that the employee may need to take more regular bathroom breaks. The increasing size and discomfort of the employee may affect the employee’s ability to work in confined spaces and may require changes in protective clothing.

Delving into industry specific risk factors; when an employee works with chemicals or an area where exposed to noise, vibrations, dust etc. You must assess the potential exposures and take the necessary preventative steps.

The Code of Good Practice aims to ensure the health and safety of both the mother and the unborn child, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure all necessary precautions are taken to prevent risk.

Please see the our Tip of the Month section ‘Risk Factors to Consider’ for more info.

Tip of the Month

The following exposures can cause complications during pregnancy; employers should assess the possible risk factors and take the necessary precautions.

– Radiation/ radioactive substances can be harmful to the foetus even in low doses which seem not to affect the mother.

– Electric or electromagnetic fields.

– Lifting heavy objects can cause pre-mature labour or pulled muscles during pregnancy.

– Biological agents i.e. bacteria, viruses can cause infections etc.

– Chemicals can cause a range of complications, i.e. miscarriage, low birth weight.

– The employee’s balance may be affected, making work on slippery or wet surfaces difficult.

– Tiredness associated with pregnancy may affect the employee’s ability to work overtime and do evening work, so you may have to consider granting rest periods.