pregnant or recently having had a baby is both beautifully natural and scarily
stressful. Whilst there’s a pressure on women to ‘glow’ or ‘blossom’ during and
after pregnancy, hormonal changes, body composition changes, a growing bump,
the act of giving birth, breastfeeding and the physical and mental changes that
come with pregnancy and childbirth can be overwhelming.
these stresses and worries, can be a woman’s working conditions. As we mentioned
in our article on the
health issues that can arise from pregnancy and their impact on working
with display screen equipment (or DSE), pregnancy and childbirth causes
physical and emotional changes.
changes need to be considered and allowed for when thinking about employee
health and safety at work. But looking after the wellbeing of pregnant
employees shouldn’t be something extra that we do, it should be
something that’s naturally taken care of. All employers have a legal obligation
to provide clean, safe working conditions for their staff. But, to bolster
trust, loyalty and good productivity, you also have a moral obligation to be
responsible for all staff at all stages of their lives and careers.
with a PC, laptop or any other display screen equipment during pregnancy can lead
to the development of several health issues. These include back pain and
discomfort, pain in the neck and shoulders and swelling in the wrists and
ankles due to increased water retention in the soft tissues.
issues are related to the way the body changes to accommodate a growing baby.
But in addition to these physical changes, hormonal changes also mean increased
fatigue and mood changes.
these issues, physical or emotional, should be ignored when assessing a
workstation. Nor should they be ignored when a new mother returns to work after
her pregnancy, as she may still be experiencing physical and emotional changes
in the months and years after giving birth.
employer you’re not legally obliged to carry out a specific risk assessment
after being notified that an employee is pregnant. But you do have the legal
requirement to capture hazards in a general risk assessment that should apply
to all staff.
employee or group of employees (in this case, women of childbearing age who may
become pregnant – and remember, you also have a duty to have a diverse
workforce) are identified as those who might be harmed, then steps must be
taken to minimise risk. You will need to know how any apparent risks might
cause harm to new or expectant mothers and how you’ll minimise them.
also choose to carry out an additional assessment to make an informed decision
on any further action that may need to be taken.
crucial time for all new and expectant mothers to get quality advice from their
employer regarding posture and any hazards associated with their type of work.
This can be done as part of a New and Expectant Mother Risk Assessment, and if
the nature of work is solely desk based, a separate DSE Assessment is
is focused primarily on the pregnancy related hazards for desk based tasks and
includes an assessment on the following hazards:
– Physical – ergonomics,
posture, movement, manual handling, radiation, vibration, noise
– Biological – infectious
– Chemical – toxins,
mercury, cytotoxic drugs, pesticides, lead
– Working conditions –
facilities including restrooms, stress, temperature, lone working, violence,
wearing PPE, working with visual display units
information, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999;
regulation 3(1) and regulation 16, is the piece of the legislation that covers
this. We can also help by providing assessments and advice.