New and Expectant Mothers at Work Policy

This Corporation does not equate pregnancy with ill health but regards it as part of everyday life and believes its health and safety implications can, in most cases, be adequately addressed by normal company health and safety procedures.

Where risk assessment shows there to be significant risk to the health and safety of new or expectant mothers, This Corporation will take all necessary steps, so far as is reasonably practicable, to remove the hazard or prevent exposure to the risk. Where this is not feasible and normal control measures still leave a significant risk, This Corporation will take appropriate steps to protect the new or expectant mother by: -

  1. Temporarily adjusting her working conditions and/or hours of work. If this is not possible or would not avoid the risk
  2. Offer her suitable alternative work if available. If this is not possible and there is still genuine concern for her child
  3. Give her paid leave for the period of time necessary to protect her or her child's safety and/or health whilst she is breastfeeding.

 

THE TABLE BELOW SETS OUT THE HAZARDS, RISKS AND ACTION TO BE CONSIDERED FOR NEW AND EXPECTANT MOTHERS

HAZARD

EXAMPLES

RISK:
EXPECTANT MOTHERS

RISK:
NEW MOTHERS

ACTION TO AVOID
THE RISK

1. Shocks, vibration,

movement

Driving/riding in off-road vehicles using a buffing machine. Heavy physical work, over stretching

Regular exposure to shocks, low frequency vibration, or excessive movement, may increase the risk of a miscarriage or premature birth

Exposure to shock, vibration or excessive movement may cause pain or discomfort to those who have recently given birth. Breastfeeding workers - no greater risk than other workers

Pregnant workers and those who have recently given birth should not be subjected to work involving whole body vibration or where the abdomen is exposed to shocks or jolts

2. Manual handling of loads where there is risk of injury

Carrying of heavy, large or awkward objects. Working at a high pace. Carry for long distances.

Pregnant workers are especially at risk from manual handling injuries - hormonal charges affect ligaments. Postnatal problems with increased size.

Those who have just given birth, especially via caesarean section are likely to have a temporary limitation in lifting and handling capacity. Breastfeeding workers - no greater risk than other workers

Reduce manual lifting and handling as far as possible, provide trolleys etc breakdown the load or task

3. Ionizing Radiation

Working/contact with X-rays. Working/contact with radiotherapy. Working in areas marked with 'radioactive' signs.

Significant exposure can be harmful to the fetus.

Working with radioactive liquids or dusts could cause exposure to the child via contamination of the mothers skin

Pregnant and new mothers should not be employed in work where the risk of such is high. Procedures should be in place to keep radiation levels well below the statutory dose limit for pregnant women.

4. Extremes of Heat

Working near furnaces. Working in hot kitchens. Working in any hot environment

When pregnant, women tolerate heat less well and may faint or suffer heat stress.

Breastfeeding may be impaired by heat dehydration

Pregnant workers should not be exposed to prolonged heat at work e.g. working over hot stoves, near furnaces. Rest facilities and access to refreshments will help

 

5. Postural Problems

Standing for long periods. Heavy physical work. Working at heights - ladders etc. Working in confined spaces. Working at desks.

Fatigue from standing and other physical work will increase risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.

Excessive physical/mental pressure may cause stress and increased blood pressure

Those who have just given birth especially via caesarean section are likely to have some temporary limitation in normal movement

Adjusting workstations or work procedures to reduce postural problems/risk of accidents. Ensure hours and volume of work is not excessive. Longer or more frequent breaks will help reduce fatigue

 

6. Biological Agents -

Hepatitis B, HIV Herpes, TB Syphilis, Chicken Pox,

Typhoid, German Measles,

Toxoplasma,

ytomegalovirus, Chlamydia

 

Most workers are at no more risk of infection at work than from living in the community. Higher risk groups include working in laboratories, health care, looking after animals and dealing with animal products.

Many biological agents can cause abortion of the fetus or physical and neurological damage to the unborn child.

Can be transmitted to child by close contact or through breastfeeding

RISK ASSESSMENT

- Nature of the agent

- How is spread

- How likely contact is

- Control measures in place/required

- vaccination

NOTE - If there is a known high risk of exposure to a highly infectious agent they should not be exposed

7. Chemical agents labeled with risk phrases

Work in chemical pilot plant

Work in chemical production plant

Work in some laboratories

Work in pharmaceutical pilot plant

Work in pharmaceutical production plant

 

Chemical agents labeled with risk phrases (e.g. R40, R61, R63 etc) may cause heritable genetic damage to the unborn child

As above

As above

8. Mercury and mercury derivatives

Work in laboratories etc where exposed to mercury

Organic mercury compounds could have adverse effects on the fetus, may poison the mother to be

New mothers - no great risk than other workers. Health effects on child from exposure of mother to mercury and derivatives uncertain

Follow Guidance Notes.

EH17 - Mercury - H&S precautions

MS12 - Mercury - Medical surveillance

9. Animitotic (cytotoxic) drugs

Work in chemical pilot plant

Work in pharmaceutical pilot plant

Work in pharmaceutical laboratory

Work in pharmaceutical production plant

These drugs can cause damage to genetic information in sperm and eggs. Some may cause cancer, can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin

As (6) above

Those trying to conceive, are pregnant or breastfeeding should be fully informed of the reproductive hazard, should have been done on induction, may have to move worker to another area temporarily.

10. Dangerous chemicals absorbed through the skin

Work with some pesticides, herbicides.

Pharmaceutical industry some laboratories

Can be inhaled via vapor or absorbed through the skin via splashes, most are toxic and cause severe damage to living tissue - may poison

As per expectant mothers

COSHH ASSESSMENT

Control exposure, prevent contact. Personal protective equipment, training.

11. Carbon Monoxide

Work in engine test cells

Work in garages

Carbon monoxide readily crosses the placenta and may result in the fetus being starved on oxygen

New/Breastfeeding mothers - no greater risk than other workers

Follow Guidance Note

EH43 - Carbon Monoxide

Pregnant workers should be moved from the areas

12. Lead and lead derivatives

Work with lead or its derivatives in any form

May cause abortion, stillbirth and infertility

Lead can enter breast milk. Babies particularly sensitive to the toxic effects of lead

Neither expectant nor new mothers should be given work that significantly exposes them to lead

 

NOTE: SOME EXPECTANT MOTHERS MAY EXPRESS CONCERN ABOUT WORKING WITH DISPLAY SCREEN EQUIPMENT (VDU'S) THE NATIONAL RADIOGICAL PROTECTION BOARD CONSIDERS, IN LIGHT OF SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, THAT THESE CONCERNS ARE UNFOUNDED.

 

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This information is derived from the Health & Safety Manual and Kit
For further information about the Kit, visit The Essential Health and Safety Manual home page
 
  See also Health & Safety Made Easy
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