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Why are assessments for pregnant employees at work so important?

Why are assessments for pregnant employees at work so important?

Being pregnant doesn’t usually stop a woman from being able to work. However, there are some risks in the workplace that could affect the health and wellbeing of the pregnant employee and their unborn child.

Employers must ensure that working conditions do not put a pregnant worker or their baby’s health at risk. It is against the law for an employer to dismiss a pregnant worker or treat them unfairly due to the fact that they are unable to do the same work due to the increased health and safety risks during pregnancy.

Assessments for pregnant workers ensure compliance with Health and Safety regulations and will reduce the health risks for any pregnant workers in the workplace. Pregnant worker assessments also help highlight any issues that need to be dealt with in order to reduce the health and safety risks to any pregnant workers.

The purpose of a pregnant worker assessment is to identify any major hazards to expectant mothers that may occur whilst working and to eliminate any risk to the mother and her unborn child in the workplace.

Where risks have been identified during the pregnant worker assessment relevant action must be taken by employers and measures must be put in place. Measures could include making changes to a pregnant worker's job and the tasks that they undertake. It could involve changing an individual's role entirely and making them undertake different tasks. It could be necessary to suspend an employee on full pay in some circumstances, if there was no suitable alternative work.

A pregnant worker assessment is an ongoing process and as the pregnancy progresses employers need to review the assessment. The pregnant worker’s health and wellbeing will worsen as time goes on and so will the possible risks. An example would be that at the start of the pregnancy the worker may be able to continue in their job which involves heavy lifting without any health risks. However, later on in the pregnancy would likely cause health risks to the worker and her baby. By assessing the pregnant worker on an ongoing basis, the employer will be able to see any developing risks and take appropriate action.

There are a number of activities and hazards in the workplace that could cause harm to a pregnant worker and their unborn baby. All of which prove why completing a pregnant worker assessment which highlights any possible dangers is so important.

Sitting down for extended time periods whilst pregnant can have many risks. Research has shown that sitting down for long periods of time has a direct link to thrombosis, which can have devastating affects during pregnancy.

As well as sitting, standing for long periods can also have devastating affects whilst pregnant. Research has shown that extended periods of standing as pregnancy progresses can disrupt the flow of blood. Standing in the same position for long periods is likely to increase the risk of the pregnant worker having high blood pressure which has known links to miscarriages and premature birth.

Working antisocial and long hours can also impact the health and wellbeing of pregnant workers and their unborn baby. A recent study has shown that women with irregular sleep patterns who work night shifts have a greater chance of miscarrying.

Heavy lifting is another activity that has the possibility to cause harm to pregnant workers and their baby. Hormone changes during pregnancy increase the risk of injury occurring whilst manual handling. Having a fall or a serious injury in the work place as a result of manual handling can have serious effects on the unborn baby.

Hormonal changes in pregnancy loosen the tough tissues in the joints and pelvic floor making expectant mothers vulnerable to stress. Certain tasks that are particularly stressful should be avoided whilst pregnant to avoid any risk. Research has previously shown that severe stress can impact negatively on pregnancy, linking it to premature birth and low birth weight.

This goes to show why assessing pregnant workers is so important. Pregnant worker assessments will outline any issues and potential risks to any pregnant employees and show ways that the risks can be remedied. Essentially, pregnant worker assessments are so important as not responding to risks can lead to a number of serious health issues for the pregnant worker and their unborn baby.

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Posture Group is a leading provider of online and face to face DSE workstation assessments, manual handling assessments, pregnant worker assessments and employee pain assessments UK-wide.

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