Protecting Pregnant Workers and New Mothers
In order to protect pregnant workers and new mothers, employers are required to carry out an individual risk assessment.
This applies to workers who are pregnant, have given birth in the last 6 months or are breastfeeding. Workers includes not only employees but also agency or temporary staff.
The risk assessment should be carried out as soon as the worker informs in writing of their pregnancy.
Involve the new or expectant mother in the process, ask if there are any conditions or circumstances with their pregnancy that could affect their work. Address any specific concerns they might have.
You must take account of any medical recommendations provided by their doctor or midwife.
It is important to then review the risk assessment at different stages of the pregnancy. Towards the end of the pregnancy the workers speed of movement and agility is likely to be affected.
Examples of common risks include standing or sitting for long periods of time, manual handling, work at height and exposure to harmful substances.
Be aware that pregnant workers and breastfeeding mothers are entitled to more frequent rest breaks.
Following the assessment record your findings and explain them to the worker. Explain clearly how you intend to keep them and their unborn child safe.
Where there is a significant risk that cannot be controlled or removed you firstly need to consider adjusting the working conditions to remove the risk, if that is not possible provide alternative work, and if that is not possible suspend the worker on paid leave for as long as necessary to protect to protect their health and safety and that of their child.
Author: Rachel Herd, Health & Safety Advisor at Howarths