Risk Assessments for Pregnant Employees

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Health Assured team

02 September 2019

All workers have a right to be protected from harm in the workplace.

As an employer, your duty of care means working out the best ways to go about protecting them.

A risk assessment is an examination of potential harm that might come about due to workplace activities. It involves carefully noting all activities and the risks that they pose to workers.

Pregnant employees are at a heightened risk of harm in the workplace.

While it’s something that should be considered for everyone, health and safety for pregnant employees is especially important.

Employer’s obligations to pregnant employees?

There are four main legal rights for pregnant employees:

You’re not actually legally bound to provide light duty for pregnant employees or any extra break entitlement for pregnant employees. But it could technically be argued that not doing so is unfair treatment—it gets legally complex quite quickly. For now, we’ll stick with risk assessments.

How to do a risk assessment for a pregnant employee

A risk assessment should already take into consideration risks to female employees of childbearing age and new/expectant mothers. When you’re notified of a pregnant employee, you should check your assessment immediately to see if any new risks have come up.

You’re not actually obliged to carry out a specific assessment for pregnant employees. But it’s a good idea to do so—the health of a pregnant woman is incredibly important, and you want them to come back to their job after their child is born with confidence in your concern for their wellbeing.

The Health & Safety Executive has a number of resources available to help you carry out your risk assessment. Much of the time, thinking about pregnant employees during assessments is simply common sense. For example:

  • Do you work in a place where heavy lifting is common? Lifting at work while pregnant is a definite risk—this can include bales of paper for the printer, not just huge pallets of product.
  • If you work in an office, are your seating and display equipment settings appropriate for a pregnant employee? There are special ergonomic chairs available, which support pregnant women sitting for long periods.
  • If you work with chemicals or other hazardous substances, are they appropriate to a pregnant woman’s wellbeing?
  • Is their role particularly high-stress? Stress can be dangerous, especially stress at work while pregnant—it can cause complications including immune system issues, heart problems, rising blood pressure and more. These can all contribute to premature birth—or worse.
  • Does the role involve a long period of travel or isolation? Complications during pregnancy can be quite drastic, so a constant point of contact is a must.

If you’re uncertain about the practical and emotional support you need to give to pregnant employees, Health Assured can help.

Health Assured's Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is perfect for this—we have trained advisors and counsellors on-hand 24/7, 365 to aid you and your employees, giving you the tools to increase wellbeing and productivity. Contact us today on 0844 892 2493 to discuss this further.

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