Expecting a baby is a time to celebrate and look forward to the future with a new bundle of joy. But with that comes the normal worries that everything is going to be ok and the understandable nervousness surrounding the birth.
But with pregnancy also comes physical and emotional issues that can be made worse by the incorrect working environment and unsupportive working practices and management. This can be especially problematic when a pregnant woman is working with Display Screen Equipment, or DSE.
Whilst there is no evidence that working with DSE is inherently unsafe for expectant mothers, there are concerns that a poorly organised workspace can lead to problems with posture.
Postural problems including muscular aches and pains can also lead to headaches and fatigue. And these problems are likely to get progressively worse as a woman’s pregnancy progresses.
Pregnancy means that a woman’s body is a constant state of flux, with the muscles and bones moving and the joints becoming looser and more flexible as her centre of gravity is shifted by her growing baby. Her lumbar curve will also become deeper, causing her back and hip muscles to stretch. Without the correct support, this can lead to back and shoulder pain and discomfort, that even completely unintentionally, can lead to a reduced performance at work.
This means that a fully adaptable and repositionable chair and desk are essential. As is anything else that can make using DSE more comfortable, such as a foot and/or wrist rest, and proper lumbar support.
The hormonal changes a woman experiences during pregnancy can also lead to water retention in the soft tissues, causing swollen ankles and wrists. Which is uncomfortable at best, but in extreme cases can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Not all DSE use and pregnancy related problems are physical. Many pregnant women suffer with fatigue and mood swings caused by hormonal changes. A poorly set up work station can lead to these problems getting worse, which can lead to overwhelm, anxiety and time off work.
So it’s crucial to get things right from the beginning. As an employer, you have a legal and a moral duty to make your employees workplaces comfortable and safe. You must conform to at least the minimum requirements for Health & Safety legislation and allow for regular rest breaks of 5-10 minutes per 50-60 minutes of work for all pregnant women.
In relation to DSE workstations, this means carrying out regular DSE assessments, whether face to face, or, as is more common in recent months, virtually over video conferencing.
Here at Virtual DSE, we provide fully compliant face to face and virtual new and expectant mother risk assessments and make recommendations based on individual needs and circumstances.
Supporting all staff, including new and expectant mothers, will help to create a trustworthy and supportive workplace that pays dividends in terms of productivity, staff moral and staff retention.
Don’t let your staff down, and they won’t let
you down. Book your new and expectant mother risk assessment with us today!