New and Expectant Mothers (Pregnancy Risk Assessments)
The management of pregnant employees, new mothers and also women of childbearing age requires careful planning and swift action.
Specific regulations such as the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations have direct instructions on how pregnant employees should be assisted.
Legislation requires employers to carry out a risk assessments for new or expectant mothers as soon as an employee informs their employer that she is pregnant. A risk assessment is intended to identify anything that may put the employee at risk in the workplace.
Display Screen Equipment assessments will be renewed at the same time as the new and expectant mothers risk assessment is completed. Other records that will need to be considered are General Practitioners / Midwife assessments, previous medical records and even fit for work statement.
Information that should be included in a pregnancy risk assessment is the employees date of birth, the due date, number of previous pregnancies, blood pressure and also any medical conditions that may affect their work while pregnant, such as low or high blood pressure or musculo-skeletal injuries.
The initial risk assessment is just part of the process as the pregnancy will change the working conditions and comfort of the employee. It is recommended to carry out a review at the start of the second trimester (6months). A final check before leaving work is best practise and then a return to work assessment which will be very specific to the employee. These reviews will trigger a workstation and DSE assessment to be reviewed as well.
Elements to consider in a pregnancy risk assessment can include the following:
· Recommendations made by doctor or midwife · Biological and Chemical agents such as Teratogens / Embryotoxins /chemicals with special risk to foetus / baby · Display Screen Equipment/ Workstation – new assessment required! (Chair comfort and footrest) · Fatigue and working unusual hours · Fire – Emergency evacuation may be difficult due to reduced agility, dexterity, co-ordination, speed, reach and balance · Manual handling of any loads such as boxes, files, heavy physical work, repetitive movements particularly of a dorsolumbar nature · Medical conditions that may contribute to discomfort and affect safety · Noise · Occupational stress / Excess workload or pressure · Posture - Static or poor which causes backache and potentially increase the risk of thrombosis or embolism, such as sitting or standing for long periods · Progression of pregnancy and a change in gravity, reach and comfort. Additional rest and comfort breaks are required. · Radiation · Slips, trips and falls · Temperature extremes – Heat and Ventilation · Travelling · Vibration · Work related violence · Work at height or ladder use