Pregnancy Risk Assessment

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Pregnancy Risk Assessment

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, Part 6, Chapter 2, Protection of Pregnant, Post Natal and Breastfeeding Employees apply when an employee informs her employer that she is pregnant, has recently given birth or is breastfeeding and provides an appropriate medical certificate.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 and the Pregnancy Regulations, 2007 require that a risk assessment be done as part of the Safety Statement. This is required in all workplaces. The risk assessment should already have identified any hazards, which may present a risk during pregnancy. The risk assessment specifically required by the Pregnancy Regulations should therefore, be a re-appraisal of these hazards.

Once an employer becomes aware that an employee is pregnant, they must assess the specific risks from the employment to that employee and take action to ensure that she is not exposed to anything, which would damage either her health or that of her developing child. The findings of the pregnancy risk assessment will determine if it is safe for the pregnant employee to remain at work thus offering comfort and protection of both mother and her unborn child as well as the employer.

The pregnancy risk assessment look at general hazards, hazards specific to pregnancy and hazards specific to breast feeding. The pregnant employee is prohibited from engaging in manual lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling of load, work involving any exposure to biological, chemical or physical agents. She must not engage in work that involves physical strain such as prolonged periods of sitting, standing, exposure to extreme temperatures, vibration and must not be engaged to do night work if specified by her medical practitioner. The employee is, of course, entitled to a copy of this report on request.

In addition to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 and the Pregnancy Regulations, 2007, the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 Amendment Act 2004 also gives needed details on:

  • Maternity leave entitlements
  • Clinic visit entitlements
  • Preservation of job security
  • Health and safety leaves
  • Health and safety benefits
  • Arrangements that encourage breastfeeding

The said regulations and act give effect to the provisions for health and safety of the Pregnant Worker's Directive (92/85/EEC)

What does it mean to carry out a pregnancy risk assessment?

It means identifying:

  • what hazards the pregnant woman is exposed to
  • how frequent and how long the exposure occurs

General and Specific Hazards

The hazards are categorized into three types:

  • General Hazards
  • Hazards distinct to pregnancy
  • Hazards specific to breastfeeding
  1. General hazards include noise, bullying and stress, too much heat or cold, load handling, physical shocks (like direct blows to the stomach), vibration of the whole body, abrupt or severe postures/movement, biological agents like viruses and bacteria, ionising radiation, non ionising radiation, and chemicals/substances that cause cancer (like mercury and carbon monoxide).
  2. Hazards distinct to pregnancy
    Unless stated in the risk assessment findings that there'll be no injury to the employee or her developing infant, pregnant women must not work with
    • toxoplasma
    • rubella (unless the person was adequately immunized)
    • pressurization chambers
    • underground mine work
    • lead and substances with lead
    • specific physically demanding activities (heavy lifting)
  3. Hazards specific to breastfeeding
    Unless indicated in the risk assessment finding that there'll be no harm to the employee or her developing child, working mothers who are breastfeeding must not work with:
    • underground mine work
    • lead and /or lead substances

Is working at a display screen/monitor for long periods harmful to an unborn child?

There's no need for pregnant employees to stop working with a DSE. The stipulations of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, Part 2, Chapter 4, Display Screen Equipment are applicable to all regular users of DSEs.

What to do in the event that a risk cannot be eliminated?

  • If it's not workable to ensure the safety / health of the worker by doing protective controls, and if the analysis finding shows there's a risk to the pregnant employee or to her developing /breastfeeding child, the employer should adjust her working hours or working conditions or both.
  • If the first solution isn't possible, she must be provided an appropriate alternative work.
  • If a suitable alternative job isn't possible, she must be granted the employee health and safety leave as specified in Section 18 of the Maternity Protection Act 1994.

Granting of Health and Safety Leave

After identifying the risk, the employer must eliminate that risk or adjust the work. If the risk cannot be removed, the employee should be provided a suitable alternative job. In instances when no suitable alternative work is available, the worker must be granted Health and Safety Leave in line with Section18 of the Maternity Protection Act, 1994.

During this leave, she is entitled to her normal wages for the first three weeks. To learn more about maternity benefit payments, look up the Maternity Benefit Section, Department of Social and Family Affairs.

ADSC can help with your Pregnancy Risk Assessment Requirements > Contact us for a Quote!

We at ADSC Ireland have vast experience undertaking Manual Handling Training and would be delighted to provide a quote.

To enable us provide you with a Ergonomic Assessment quote please provide the following information.

  • Location of your premises
  • Number of employees requiring assessment.
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