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					New & Expectant Mothers
    Risk Assessment.

      Notes of guidance

             Safety Unit
         Human Resources
         Municipal Buildings
            Church Road
          Stockton on Tees
         Tel. 01642 – 393046   (Ref: WM/BCA)

Being pregnant should not be classed as ill health. It should be regarded as a part of everyday life
and the health and safety implications can be addressed by the same normal health and safety
management that applies to all workplace hazards and risks.

Many women continue to work during their pregnancy and many will want to return to work
following their maternity leave. Some women on their return to work will possibly still be
continuing to breastfeed their baby.

There are some hazards within the workplace that may affect the health and safety of new and
expectant mothers and that of their children.

We need to ensure that whatever the stage of the pregnancy the woman is at whilst working for us,
or following the birth, any identified hazards and risks are assessed and reduced to the lowest level
reasonably practicable.


The phrase ‘new or expectant mother’ means a woman who is pregnant, who has given birth within
the previous six months, or who is breast-feeding.

‘Given birth’ is defined in the new Regulations as ‘delivered a living child or, after 24 weeks of
pregnancy, a still born child’.

Why this guide?

The law at present requires that managers need to assess the risks to their employees, including new
and expectant mothers, and to do what is reasonably practicable to control those risks.

This guidance will give managers the information they require about the known risks to new and
expectant mothers and instruct them on what they need to do to comply with the law.

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is nothing more than a careful examination of what in your workplace or the
activities you engage upon could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have
taken enough precautions, or should you do more to prevent harm occurring. In this case, the people
you are considering are both the pregnant employee and her child.

How thorough should the assessment be?

Risk driven legislation states that your risk assessments must be either ‘adequate’ or ‘suitable &
sufficient’. These mean the same thing and tell you the risk assessment does not have to be overly
complicated. In deciding the amount of effort you put into assessing risks you must judge whether
the hazards are significant and whether you have taken sufficient precautionary measures to reduce
those risks.
Suitable & sufficient means;-
a) The assessment should identify the risks arising from or in connection with the work,
b) The level of detail in a risk assessment should be proportionate to the risk.
Who is responsible for assessing the risks?

In all cases it is the employer who is responsible for assessing the risks. The employer will often
delegate this duty to someone who he/she feels is competent to undertake the assessments.

The designated ‘competent person’ is usually someone working within the authority/department
with the necessary skills (training), competencies, experience and other qualities to enable them to
undertake the risk assessments.

When to assess?

Risk assessments must be completed as soon as the employee has given written notification of her
pregnancy to the employer.

Recording the assessment:

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require that where five or more are
employed, the employer must record the significant findings of the assessments (risk assessment

Purpose of this Assessment & the Legislative Requirements:

New legislation required to implement the European Directive on Pregnant Workers was introduced
into the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 by the Management of Health
& safety at Work (Amendment) Regulations 1994 with effect from December 1st 1994.

It requires managers to carry our risk assessments and evaluation of all significant hazards within
the workplace to new or expectant mothers in their employment. Ideally the assessment aims to
eliminate the risk or control it so that the likelihood of injury is reduced. If a risk cannot be avoided
by other means, then a change will need to be made to the working conditions or hours, offer other
suitable alternative work, or if that is not possible give the employee paid leave for as long as is
necessary to protect her health or safety and that of her child.

The risk assessment must be a written one and the employee must be informed of the outcome.
(Statutory Instrument 1994).

Other regulations such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1989
(COSHH) and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (MHOR) require more specific
assessments to be carried out where it has been assessed that there is a significant risk of injury.

Again these must be written assessments and the employee must be informed of the outcome.

The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 require suitable facilities to be
provided for workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding to rest. The rest area should be non-
smoking, situated close to amenities and, where possible, include arrangements for lying down.
Facilities should also be available in the workplace for mothers to express and store breast milk
(HSC, 1992).

The HSE advise that a 5 step approach (Appendix 1) be adopted when undertaking the assessment
of risks:

   Look for the Hazards
   Decide who might be harmed
   Tell your employees about the risk
   Avoid the risk
   Keep the risks under review.

Reviewing the assessment:

All of the risk driven legislation requires that you periodically review your assessments and revise
them as necessary, e.g., if you suspect that they are no longer valid or there has been a significant

You will need to keep the risk assessment for new or expectant mothers under constant review.

Although the hazards are likely to remain constant, the possibility of damage to the foetus as a
result of identified hazards will vary at different stages of the pregnancy.

There are also different risks to consider for employees returning to work who continue to
breastfeed. The new regulations do not put a time limit on the period of breastfeeding and state that
it is for the woman herself to decide this.

Additional Assistance or Advice:

If you require further information on the completion of this risk assessment or advise in regard to
maternity provisions/benefits, please do not hesitate to contact the Back Care Advisor – Wendy
MacDonald who is located at: -

Human Resources
Wynyard House
Billingham Town Centre
Tel. 01642 - 415414

Or your Human Resources Officer on 39…………….


1. To enable suitable and sufficient assessments of new and expectant employees to be carried
   out in all of the workplaces which SBC have control over and the activities they engage

2. To ensure that approved codes of practise and standards are adhered to in relation to the
   guidance given for employees in regard to new and expectant mothers in their employment.

3. To enable SBC to meet the legal requirements of: -
               The Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974
               The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
               The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
               The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 1994
               Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging) Regulations 1993
               Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986
               Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1980
               Noise at Work Regulations 1989
               Ionising Radiation’s Regulations 1985
               Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992.

4. To ensure potential hazards within the workplace premises are identified and actions taken
   to reduce the risk to a level that is reasonably practicable.

5. To evaluate the risks to the new or expectant worker from those hazards and decide whether
   the existing precautions are adequate or whether more could be done to reduce the risks

6. To ensure that the health, safety and welfare of the new or expectant mother and her child is
   under constant review and monitoring.

7. To record the findings of the risk assessment and detail the actions taken as a result.

8. To communicate the finding of the assessment to those exposed to the risks.

9. Monitor and review the assessment constantly during and following the birth of the child.

         Flowchart for the undertaking of a new or expectant mother
                              risk assessment

                      Employee notifies in writing her pregnancy to Employer
                 Employer Appoints Competent Persons To Carry Out The Assessment
                           Plan To Prepare and Carry out The Assessment

Step 1

                                      Identify work related hazards ;-
                Physical, biological and chemical agents, processes and working conditions.
                                               (APPENDIX 1)

Step 2

                    Identify the people at significant risk from the hazards identified
                               The new or expectant mother and/or their baby.

Step 3

                                                   Avoid the risks.
                        Are existing precautionary and preventative measures adequate?
              Do you have safe systems for new & expectant mothers and their unborn children.
              Are there still significant risks to the safety or health of a new or expectant mother,
                                which goes beyond the level of risk to be expected?
            Are temporary adjustments needed to the employees working conditions and/or hours
                                                       of work?
            Is other suitable alternative work available or feasible if adjustments cannot be made?
              If not, then it may be necessary to suspend the employee from work (give her paid
               leave) for as long as necessary to protect her safety or health or that of her child.

Step 4

                                   Record findings and action taken
                              Document the detail of your risk assessment.
                          Identify any remedial measures deemed necessary.
                         Prioritise any precautionary or preventative measures.
                                         Action those measures.
            Communicate the findings of the assessment to the new or expectant mother and any
                                 other persons who is required to know.

Step 5

                                          Keep the risks under review
               Although hazards are likely to remain constant, the risk to the foetus will vary at
           different stages during the pregnancy and therefore risks need to be kept under constant
                   There are different risks to consider for workers who are breastfeeding.
              Breastfeeding mothers should not be exposed to risks that could damage health or
                                safety for as long as they continue to breastfeed.
           Where employees continue to breastfeed for many months, you will want to review the
                                                 risks regularly.

                            GUIDANCE INFORMATION:

The following information has been sought from a number of professional bodies (Health & Safety
Executive, Royal College of Nurses and the Health Education Authority) that all have a vested
interest in offering employers guidance and advice on the undertaking of risk assessments for new
and expectant mothers.

The information is to be considered above that of your normal everyday risk assessments for non-
pregnant employees and therefore there is a requirement to do a specific individual risk assessment
for all new and expectant mothers.

For example: manual handling risk assessment must be undertaken for any tasks that poses a
significant risk of injury if it cannot be avoided (Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992).
For any new or expectant mothers their susceptibility to injury and/or risk to the unborn child needs
to be considered above that of other employees undertaking the same task.

COSHH assessments must also be carried out by law, there are certain chemicals that pose greater
risks to the unborn child if exposed to them whilst in the mothers womb – the information in this
guidance is in addition to the ‘normal’ COSHH assessments that you are required to undertake and
again need to be specific to the individual new or expect mother.

At the end of this guidance is the corporate risk assessment document for completion on all new &
expectant mothers. This assessment needs to be reviewed at regular stages throughout the
pregnancy due to the varying stages and risks associated with pregnancy.

The assessment must also be reviewed on the employees return to work following her maternity
leave to consider the risks to her health and that of her child if she is continuing to breastfeed.

Appendix 1:


PHYSICAL AGENTS: where these are regarded as agents causing foetal lesions and/or likely to disrupt
placental attachment.

 List of agents/working conditions            What is at risk?                     How to avoid the risk
                                        Regular exposure to shocks,          Pregnant workers and those
    1. Shocks vibration or               low frequency vibration               who have recently given
         movement.                       and extensive driving may             birth are advised to avoid
                                         increase the risk of                  work likely to involve
                                         miscarriage.                          uncomfortable whole body
                                        Long term exposure to                 vibration.
                                         vibration does not cause             Activities where the
                                         foetal abnormalities but is           abdomen is exposed to
                                         often associated with heavy           shocks or jolts must be
                                         physical work which may               avoided.
                                         increase risk of prematurely         No increased risk for
                                         or low birth weight.                  breastfeeding mothers.

 2. Manual handling of loads            Pregnant employee is                 Avoidance of repetitive
    where there is a risk of             especially at risk due to             lifting, particularly in the
           injury.                       hormonal changes affecting            early stages of pregnancy as
                                         there ligaments, their                this has been linked to
                                         increased susceptibility to           miscarriage.
                                         injury and the postural              In later stages of
                                         problems associated with              pregnancy, there is risk due
                                         increased weight and size             to the shape and size of the
                                         change.                               woman and her inability to
                                        Risk for those employees              hold loads close the body.
                                         who had a ceasarian section          Changes will depend upon
                                         or recently given birth as            the risks identified in the
                                         there is a likely limitation          assessment and the
                                         of their capability to lift and       circumstances of the
                                         handle loads.                         department.
                                        Evidence to suggest that             It may be necessary to
                                         breast feeding mothers are            address the specific needs
                                         at no greater risk of manual          of the worker and reduce or
                                         handling injury than other            put a temporary limitation
                                         non-pregnant workers.                 on their capability to
                                                                               undertake the amount of
                                                                               physical work normally
                                                                              Provide lifting equipment
                                                                               to reduce the risks.

            3. Noise.                       There appears to be no                The requirements of the
                                             specific risk to new or                Noise at Work
                                             expectant mothers or                   Regulations 1989
                                             the foetus from limited                should be sufficient to
                                             exposure to noise.                     meet the needs of new

                                   However, prolonged             or expectant mothers.
                                   exposure to loud noise
                                   may lead to increased
                                   blood pressure and tired
                                  No particular problems
                                   for women who have
                                   recently given birth or
                                   who are breastfeeding.

   4. Ionising Radiation          Significant exposure to       Work procedures
                                   ionising radiation can         should be designed to
                                   be harmful to the foetus       keep exposure of the
                                   and this is recognised         pregnant woman as low
                                   by placing limits on the       as reasonably
                                   external; radiation dose       practicable and
                                   to the abdomen of the          certainly below the
                                   expectant mother for           statutory does limit for
                                   the declared term of her       pregnant woman.
                                   pregnancy.                    Special attention should
                                  Radioactive liquids or         be paid to the
                                   dusts can cause                possibility of
                                   exposure to the child,         breastfeeding mothers
                                   particularly through           receiving radioactive
                                   contamination of the           contamination and they
                                   mothers skin.                  should not be employed
                                  May be a risk to the           in work where the risk
                                   feotus from significant        of such contamination
                                   amounts of radioactive         is high.
                                   contamination breathed        Working conditions
                                   in or ingested by the          should also ensure that
                                   mother and transferred         pregnant women do not
                                   across the placenta.           receive accidental
                                                                  exposures to radioactive

        5. Non-ionising           Exposure to electric and      Exposure should not
 electromagnetic radiation:        magnetic fields within         exceed the restrictions
  e.g. electromagnetic field       current                        on human exposure
and waves (radio frequency         recommendations is not         published by the
           radiation)              known to cause harm to         National Radiological
                                   the foetus or the              Protection Board.
                                   mother. However,
                                   extreme over-exposure
                                   to radio-frequency
                                   radiation could cause
                                   harm by raising body

6. Display Screen Equipment       There is anxiety about          No special protective
            (DSE)                  radiation emissions              measures are needed to
                                   from display screen              protect the health of
                                   equipment and possible           people from this
                                   effects on pregnant              radiation.
                                   women, which is                 Pregnant women do not
                                   widespread. However              need to stop work on
                                   there is substantial             VDU’s.
                                   evidence that these             However, to avoid
                                   concerns are                     stress and anxiety
                                   unfounded. The                   women who are
                                   National Radiological            pregnant or planning
                                   Protection Board                 children and worried
                                   (NRPB) state: ‘The               about working with
                                   levels of ionising and           VDU’s should be given
                                   non-ionising                     the appropriate advise,
                                   electromagnetic                  information and
                                   radiation which are              opportunities to discuss
                                   likely to be generated           their concerns with
                                   by display screen                someone who is
                                   equipment is well                adequately informed of
                                   below those set out in           current advice.
                                   recommendations for
                                   limiting risk to human
                                   health created by such
                                   emissions and the
                                   NRPB does not
                                   consider such levels to
                                   pose significant risk to

7. Extremes of cold or heat.      Pregnant women                  Pregnant workers
                                   tolerate heat less well          should take great care
                                   and may more readily             when exposed to
                                   faint or be liable to heat       prolonged heat at work,
                                   stress. The risk is likely       for example when
                                   to be reduced after birth        working neat furnaces,
                                   but it is not certain how        cookers etc.
                                   quickly an improvement          Adequate facilities for
                                   comes about.                     regular rests and access
                                  Breastfeeding may be             to refreshments would
                                   impaired by heat                 be beneficial.
                                  No specific problems
                                   arise from working in
                                   extreme cold, although
                                   clearly for other health
                                   & safety reasons, warm
                                   clothing should be


8. Movements & Postures.      Fatigue from standing          Ensure that hours of
                               and other physical work         work and the volume
                               has long been                   and pacing of work are
                               associated with                 not excessive.
                               miscarriage, premature         Where possible give the
                               birth and low birth             employee some control
                               weight.                         over how their work is
                              Excessive physical or           organised.
                               mental pressure may            Ensure seating is
                               cause stress and give           available where
                               rise to anxiety and             appropriate.
                               raised blood pressure.         Longer and more
                              Pregnant workers may            frequent rest breaks will
                               experience problems             help to avoid or reduce
                               working at heights, for         fatigue.
                               example ladders,               Adjust workstations or
                               platforms, and in               working procedures to
                               working in tightly              remove postural
                               fitting work spaces or          problems and risk of
                               with workstations               accidents.
                               which do not adjust
                               sufficiently to take into
                               account of increased
                               abdominal size,
                               particularly during the
                               later stages of
                               pregnancy. This may
                               lead to strain or sprain
                              Dexterity, agility and
                               co-ordination, speed of
                               movement, reach and
                               balance may also be
                               impaired, and an
                               increased risk of
                               accidents may need to
                               be considered.

    Agents within some risk groups can affect the unborn child if the mother is infected
     during pregnancy as these may be transmitted through the placenta whilst the child is
     in the womb, or during or after birth, for example through breastfeeding or close
     physical contact between mother and child. E.G: hepatitus B, HIV (the AIDS virus)
     herpes, TB, Syphilis, chicken pox and typhoid.
    Certain biological agents known to cause abortion of the foetus, or physical and
     neurological damage. E.G: Rubella (German Measles), Toxoplasmosis,
     Cytomegalovirus and chlamydia.

        List of agents                What is the risk?                How to avoid the risk.

 1. Hepatitis B and C, HIV,       Can be transmitted through         Safe working practises
  herpes, TB, syphilis and         the placenta while the child        should be adopted and
          typhoid.                 is in the womb, or during or        standard infection control
                                   after birth.                        precautions followed to
                                  For most workers the risk           control transmission.
                                   of infection is not higher at      Each department where
                                   work than from living in            there is a risk of exposure
                                   the community.                      must have a policy with a
                                  Certain occupations are             24 hour emergency
                                   more likely to be exposed           procedure in place should
                                   to such infections: e.g. Care       an employee be exposed to
                                   workers, people looking             transmission.
                                   after animals, refuse              If there is a known high
                                   workers, people dealing             risk exposure to a highly
                                   regularly with blood or             infectious agent, then it will
                                   other bodily fluids and             be appropriate for the
                                   laboratory workers.                 pregnant worker to avoid
                                  If an employee has been             exposure altogether.
                                   given the Hepatitis B              PPE must also be regularly
                                   vaccination and their               and freely available to
                                   immune status confirmed             prevent contamination.
                                   there should be no risk            Employee must be
                                   during pregnancy from               encouraged to inform her
                                   exposure.                           midwife or GP as soon as
                                  Hepatitis C does not affect         exposure is suspected and
                                   the course of the                   review of preventative
                                   pregnancy.                          systems undertaken
                                  Exposure to HIV requires            immediately.
                                   additional consideration
                                   during pregnancy as the
                                   unborn child could be at
                                   risk of contracting HIV if
                                   the employee is exposed to
                                   it without precautions.
                                                                      Safe working practise must
         2. Herpes.               Can be dangerous for the            be in place with infection
                                   foetus.                             control systems.
                                                                      Employee must inform her

                                                                     midwife or GP immediately
                                                                     if she suspects she may be

      3. Chicken Pox.            Common in children under          Employee must not be
                                  ten, when it is usually a          exposed to working with
                                  mild disease. As it is             any person or child who is
                                  common in childhood most           suspected of having
                                  adults are 90% likely to be        chicken pox if they have
                                  immune because they were           not had the disease
                                  exposed to the disease as a        themselves.
                                  child, however, the disease       GP or midwife must be
                                  can be serious in adults           informed immediately if
                                  particularly to pregnant           employee has come into
                                  women.                             contact with chicken pox
                                                                     and they have not had it.

4. Rubella (German Measles)      Can affect the foetus’ sight,     Again, employee must not
                                  hearing and can cause heart        knowingly be exposed to
                                  defects if caught by the           working alongside someone
                                  mother within the first four       who is suspected to be
                                  months of pregnancy.               suffering with, or has
                                 All children are now               rubella.
                                  immunised against rubella         GP or midwife must be
                                  at between 12 – 15 months          informed and a blood test
                                  of age and again before            can be taken to detect if the
                                  they start school so               employee is infected.
                                  exposure nowadays is much
                                  les likely.

     5. Toxoplasmosis            Can damage the foetus if          Avoidance must be made of
                                  infected during pregnancy.         dealing with cat’s faeces
                                 For employees working              and litter trays.
                                  with animals this disease is      Contact also should be
                                  usually associated with            avoided with sick cats.
                                  cat’s faeces.                     PPE should be worn if
                                                                     dealing with soil that may
                                                                     have been contaminated by
                                                                     cat’s faeces.
                                                                    Safe systems and infection
                                                                     control procedure must
                                                                     include this for pregnant
                                 Lambs and sheep can be a          Avoidance of contact with
       6. Chlamydia.              source of an organism that         sheep and lambs especialy
                                  is known as Chlamydia              during the lambing season.
                                  psittaci, which is known to       Avoidance must be made
                                  cause miscarriage in ewes.         with milking ewes.
                                  They are also known to            A safe system and infection
                                  carry Toxoplasma.                  control procedure must be
                                 If employee experiences            in place to include pregnant
                                  flu-like symptoms after            workers.
                                  coming into contact with
                                  newborn lambs or sheep
                                she must inform her GP or
                                midwife immediately.

       7. Listeria.            This organism is usually            Avoid eating the foods
                                found in soil and can                listed.
                                contaminate unwashed                Good food hygiene
                                vegetables especially salad          standards.
                                vegetables as well as               Washing of vegetables
                                unpasturised milk products           thoroughly before eating.
                                including milk, soft cheese         Safe systems and infection
                                and pate.                            control measures in place to
                               Although very rare disease           avoid exposure.
                                it is important to take             Pregnant Mother must take
                                special precautions during           responsibility for her own
                                pregnancy because even the           dietary intake.
                                mild form of the disease
                                can lead to miscarriage, still
                                birth or sever illness in the
                               It can be transmitted to the
                                newborn baby shortly
                                before or during delivery
                                and may cause severe
                                neonatal infection.

8. M.R.S.A – Methicillin-      Commonly found in almost            Infection control
resistant Staphylococcus        all hospital and is now              procedures.
         Aureus.                widespread within the               Strict standards of hygiene.
                                community.                          Provide free PPE especially
                               Acquisition of the organism          gloves and aprons.
                                presents as nasal or skin           Ensure workers are aware
                                lesion colonisation.                 of good standards of
                               Does not pose any special            hygiene especially hand
                                risk to pregnancy, and is            hygiene.
                                rarely of significance in the       Risk Assessments should
                                newborn, except in rare              be carried out to control the
                                cases of infection in high           risk of cross infection by
                                dependency nurseries.                use of contaminated

      9. Zoonoses              Infectious disease of               Strict infection control
                                animals that can be                  procedures.
                                transmitted to humans.              Strict hygiene procedures,
                               Contact with infected                especially hand washing
                                animals or animal products           must be followed when
                                either at home or at work            caring for pets and farm
                                can cause acute or chronic           animals, especially sheep
                                disease such as brucelles,           during the lambing season.
                                cowpox or toxoplasmosis,
                                which is some cases can
                                cause birth deformities.

CHEMICAL AGENTS: The following chemical agents are, so far as it is known, to endanger
the health of pregnant women and the unborn child.

       List of agents                 What is the risk?               How to avoid the risk.

 1. Substances labelled R40.      There are about 200               With the exception of lead
     R45, R46 and R47.             substances labelled with           and asbestos these
                                   these risk phrases:                substance all fall within the
                                R40 - possible risk of               scope of Control of
                                   irreversible effect.               Substances Hazardous to
                                R45 – may cause cancer               Health Regulations 1994
                                R46 – may cause heritable            (COSHH). For work with
                                   genetic damage.                    hazardous substances,
                                R47 may cause birth                  which includes chemicals
                                   defects.                           which may cause heritable
                               In 1994/1995, R47 was                  genetic damage, employers
                               replaced by the risk phrases:          are required to assess the
                                R61 – may cause harm to              health risks to workers
                                   the unborn child.                  arising from such work, and
                                R63 – possible risk of harm          where appropriate prevent
                                   to the unborn child.               or control the risks.
                                R64 – may cause harm to             In carrying out assessments
                                   breastfed babies.                  employers should have
                                The actual risk to health of         regard for women whoa re
                                   these substances, as with          pregnant, or who have
                                   any substance, can only be         recently given birth and/or
                                   determined following a risk        breastfeeding.
                                   assessment of a particular
                                   substance at the place of
                                   work. For example,
                                   although the substances
                                   listed may have the
                                   potential to endanger health
                                   or safety, there may be no
                                   risk in practise if exposure
                                   is controlled and below a
                                   level, which might cause

  2. Mercury and mercury          Exposure to Organic               COSHH risk assessments
        derivatives                mercury compounds can              and safe control systems.
                                   have adverse effects on the
                                   foetus and during the
                                   pregnancy can slow down
                                   the growth of the unborn
                                   baby, disrupt the nervous
                                   system, and can cause the
                                   mother to be poisoned.
                                  No clear evidence of
                                   adverse effects on
                                   developing foetus from
                                   exposure to mercury and
                                   inorganic mercury
                                  No indication that mothers
                                   are likely to suffer greater
                                   adverse effect from
                                   mercury and its compounds
                                   after the birth of the baby.
                                  Potential health effects in
                                   children from exposure of
                                   mother to mercury and
                                   compounds after the child
                                   is born are uncertain.

    3. Antimiotic Drugs           Used to destroy malignant          COSHH risk assessment
        (Cytotoxic)                cells in cancer patients, can       and safe control systems.
                                   also damage normal cells,          Avoid any contact in first
                                   and in the long term can            trimester of pregnancy.
                                   cause damage to genetic            Must not administer or
                                   information in sperm and            make up cytotoxics in first
                                   cells.                              trimester.
                                  Pregnant women should not          Must not handle or clean up
                                   be exposed to cytotoxic             related spillages of urine,
                                   agents in the first trimester       faeces or vomit of people or
                                   of pregnancy.                       clients taking these drugs.
                                  Absorption is by inhalation        Contact with must be
                                   or through the skin.                reported and recorded
                                                                       through normal accident
                                                                       reporting procedures.
                                                                      Pregnant mother must
                                                                       inform GP or midwife
                                                                       immorality of contact.
                                                                      No threshold limit and
                                                                       exposure must be reduced.
                                                                      Any employee trying to
                                                                       conceive a child or whom is
                                                                       pregnant or breastfeeding
                                                                       should be fully informed of
                                                                       the reproductive hazard.

4. Chemical agents of known       Some of these substances           COSHH risk assessments
and dangerous percutaneous         can penetrate intact skin           and safe control systems.
absorption through the skin.       and become absorbed into           Take precautions to prevent
 Including some Pesticides.        the body, causing ill health.       skin contact.
                                   These are substances               Use engineering methods to
                                   marked with ‘SK’.                   control exposure in
                                  As with all substances, the         preference to PPE such as
                                   risks will depend on the            gloves, overalls or face
                                   way that the substance is           shields.
                                   being used as well as on its       Ensure that any PPE that is
                                   hazardous properties.               provided if this the only
                                  Absorption through the skin         alternative, is suitable and
                                   can result from localised           sufficient.
                                   contamination, for example         Control of Pesticides
                                    from a splash on the skin or        Regulations 1986, sets out
                                    clothing, or in certain cases,      general restrictions on the
                                    from exposure to high               way that pesticides can be
                                    atmospheric concentrations          used.
                                    of vapour.                         These also stipulate control
                                                                        measures for the way in
                                                                        which pesticides can be
                                                                        used and state certain safety

    5. Carbon Monoxide.            Readily crosses the                COSHH risk assessments
                                    placenta and can result in          and safe control systems.
                                    the foetus being starved of        HSE’s guidance note
                                    oxygen.                             EH43: warns that pregnant
                                   Data on the effects of              women may have a
                                    exposure on pregnant                heightened susceptibility to
                                    women is limited but there          the effects of exposure to
                                    is evidence of adverse              carbon monoxide. The
                                    effects on the foetus.              same guidance notes gives
                                   Both the level and duration         practical advise on the risks
                                    of maternal exposure are            of working with carbon
                                    important factors in the            monoxide and how to
                                    effect on the foetus.               control them.
                                   No indication that breastfed
                                    babies suffer adverse
                                    effects from their mother’s
                                    exposure to carbon
                                   No indication that the
                                    mother is significantly
                                    more sensitive to carbon
                                    monoxide after giving

 6. Nitrous oxide, halothane,      May be a link between              COSHH risk assessment
   enfluorane or isoflurane         exposure and risk of                and safe control systems
                                    miscarriage or birth defects        put in place.
                                    although recent research           Monitoring of exposure
                                    has failed to support earlier       must be carried out.
                                    findings in this area.
                                   Exposure may be through
                                    inhalation or absorption
                                    through the skin.

7. Lead and lead derivatives –     During the 1900’s when             Approved |Codes of
 in so far as these agents are      exposure was poorly                 practise associated with the
capable of being absorbed by        controlled, this was                lead regulations sets out the
    the human organism.             associated with high                current exposure limits for
                                    frequencies of spontaneous          lead and the maximum
                                    abortion, stillbirth and            permissible blood lead
                                    infertility. However, more          levels fro employees who
                                    recent studies draw                 are exposed to such a
                                    attention to an association         degree that they are subject
                between low-level lead               to medical surveillance.
                exposure before the baby is         The lower level is set to
                born from environmental              help ensure that women
                sources and mild decreases           who become pregnant have
                in intellectual performance          low blood levels – this is to
                in childhood.                        help protect the foetus from
               Effects on breastfed babies          injury in the weeks before
                of their mother’s exposure           pregnancy is confirmed.
                to lead have not been               Once pregnancy is
                studied. However, lead can           confirmed, women who are
                enter breast milk.                   subject to medical
               It is thought that the               surveillance under the lead
                nervous system of young              regulations will normally
                children is particularly             be moved to an alternative
                sensitive to the toxic effects       job or suspended from
                of lead; therefore the               work by the Employment
                exposure of breastfeeding            Medical Advisor.
                mothers to lead should be
                viewed with concern.

8. Latex.      Latex gloves provide good           Advise is to not use
                protection against the               powdered gloves and that
                contact with blood borne             powder-free latex with a
                viruses but some people can          low level of protein content
                become sensitised to the             (les than 50mgs/gm) is
                latex proteins in the gloves         worn when there is a risk of
                resulting in a latex allergy.        contact with blood or body
               Powdered latex is far more           fluids.
                likely to cause allergy, as         If employees experience a
                the latex protein becomes            reaction to wearing gloves
                attached to the powder,              they must seek advise from
                creating an airborne effect.         a medical professional.


Apart from the hazards already identified, there are other aspects of pregnancy that may
affect the ability of the new or expectant mother whilst at work. The impact will vary during
the course of the pregnancy and as the manger you will want to keep the effects under review,
for example the posture of expectant mothers changes to cope with their increasing size.

            Aspects of Pregnancy                                  Factors in Work

            1. Morning sickness.                     Early shift work
                                                     Travelling in rush hours.
                                                     Exposure to nauseating smells.

                2. Backache                          Manual handling.
                                                     Repetitive manual handling.
                                                     Standing or sitting for prolonged periods of
                                                     Posture.

              3. Varicose Veins                      Standing or sitting for prolonged periods of
                                                     Inadequate seating.

              4. Haemorrhoids                        Working in hot conditions.

           5. Frequent toilet visits                 Difficulty in leaving the job.
                                                     Site of work/location of toilets.

              6. Increasing size                     Use of PPE/uniform
                                                     Working in confined spaces.
                                                     Manual handling.
                                                     Working environment.

                7. Tiredness                         Shift patterns. (See additional info for night
                                                     Overtime.
                                                     Evening work.
                                                     Lone worker.

                 8. Balance                          Slips and trips.
                                                     Problems working on slippery. Wet surfaces.

                 9. Comfort                          Problems with working environment and

   10. Dexterity, agility, co-ordination, speed      May all be impaired because of increasing
                of movement, reach.                   size.

                         WORKING CONDITIONS ASSESMENT

       AREA OF CONSIDERATION                            HOW TO AVOID THE RISK
                                                 Emergency procedure.
1. LONE WORKER – concerns can cause              Risk Assessment for lone worker who is
anxiety, which may result in raised blood         pregnant.
pressure and complications during pregnancy      Later on in pregnancy would be advisable to
and birth.                                        not allow employee to work alone for health
                                                  & safety reasons.
                                                 Regular meetings/support from manager
2. STRESS/ANXIETY – can result in raised         Reduction of workload during pregnancy if
blood pressure and complications.                 necessary and phased return to work.
                                                 Provision of counselling
                                                 Provision for resting.
3. FATIGUE                                       Adequate breaks between shifts (11hours)
                                                 Ability to alternate between standing &
                                                 Offer suitable alternative daytime work if
4. NIGHT SHIFT WORKERS                            available.
                                                 Suspend from work for as long as is
                                                  necessary to protect her health & safety.
                                                 This is only a requirement if employee
                                                  produces a medical certificate stating night
                                                  work could affect her health & safety.
                                                 Consider change of hours to prevent
5. DRIVING                                        employee travelling in rush hour.
                                                 If part of work – employee may have
                                                  difficulty driving later on in pregnancy due
                                                  to size.
                                                 Frequent exposure to whole body vibration
                                                  can increase the risk of miscarriage.
                                                 Risk Assess frequency, duration and
                                                  environment of driving for pregnancy and
                                                  post natal.
                                                 Is the desk suitably adjustable to allow the
6. WORKSTATION                                    worker to get close enough?
                                                 Is there adequate space around the
                                                  workstation for access and egress – consider
                                                  the increasing size of employee?
                                                 Is the temperature within the room
                                                  comfortable and not too hot?
                                                 Is there any reaching or stretching to access
                                                  equipment on workstation?
                                                 Is the chair suitable?
7. CHAIR                                         Does it offer adequate back support with
                                                 Is the seat depth adequate?
                                                 Can the employee place her feet flat onto the
                                                  floor or footrest?
                                                 Does the employee know how to adjust the