Things to consider when conducting Pregnancy Risk Assessments

Home ARTICLES Things to consider when conducting Pregnancy Risk Assessments

Your workplace risk assessment should already consider any risks to female employees of childbearing age and, in particular, risks to new and expectant mothers (for example, from working conditions, or the use of physical, chemical or biological agents). Any risks identified must be included and managed as part of the general workplace risk assessment.

If you are notified that an employee is pregnant, breastfeeding or has given birth within the last six months, you should check your workplace risk assessment to see if any new risks have arisen. If risks are identified during the pregnancy, in the first six months after birth or while the employee is still breastfeeding, you must take appropriate, sensible action to reduce, remove or control them.

Although it’s not a legal requirement to do a separate individual risk assessment they are commonly undertaken as it’s the easiest way to ensure that you have assessed the risks related to the individual woman and her activities.

Areas you should consider include:

  • Manual handling – Consider if she is carrying, pushing or puling loads.
  • Ergonomics/ Posture – Consider her chair/workstation and well as the physical movements she makes during her work.
  • Night Working – A new or expectant mother may work nights, provided this presents no risk to her health and safety. However, if a specific work risk has been identified – or her GP / midwife has provided a medical certificate stating she must not work nights – her employer must offer suitable alternative day work, on the same terms and conditions. If that is not possible, the employer must suspend her from work on paid leave for as long as is necessary to protect her health and safety and / or that of her child.
  • Biological Agents – Consider infectious diseases from other employees, visitors, animals etc.
  • Chemicals – Chemicals you have on site should have the relevant Data safety sheet available and COSHH assessments in place for those that pose a significant hazard. You must ensure all chemicals she uses or come into contact with do not pose a risk to her health.
  • Lone Working – Assess your emergency arrangements, evacuation procedures, first aid, ability to raise the alarm, potential for violence, medical conditions, anxiety, risks of the activity taking place.
  • Noise – Consider if you have equipment or do other activities that pose a significant risk due to noise.
  • Work Related Stress – Consider for example any targets/pressures of work. Ensure rest breaks/welfare facilities are appropriate and an open door policy is in place should she have any concerns.
  • Rest Breaks Frequency – She is entitled to more frequent rest breaks, you should discuss together the timing and frequency of rest breaks together (there is no set pregnancy rest times as it should be specific to the activity and employee’s health).
  • Welfare facilities – Ensure they are easy to access and adequate e.g. clean, warm, seating, drinking water, washing facilities available etc.
  • Extremes of heat / cold – Assess both indoor/outdoor working, provision pf PPE, use of fans/heaters and rest breaks.
  • Nausea/Sickness – Discuss any triggers that can be avoided, ensure welfare facilities are adequate and rest breaks taken as necessary.
  • Backache – Review any manual handling, posture ergonomic as above, rest breaks, seating etc.
  • Increase in Size – As the pregnancy progresses what she can do will change, consider for example if she can use equipment safely, if she is mobile and could use stairs in an emergency etc.
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Elena Boura