The participation rates of women in the workforce since 1970 have skyrocketed into the modern economy of equality and representation. There are currently almost as many women in the workforce as there are men. As a result, health and safety considerations for female workers have become more prominent over the course of the last decade.
One of the biggest issues arising from the women workforce is the long-term health and safety of pregnant females employed in various safety-risk job environments. Once female employees provide written notification from their doctor of expected motherhood, special considerations must be met within the work environment that does not take away from the integrity of equality.
Below are a few of the special health considerations for pregnant workers that all managers and safety professionals should be trained on.
Expectant Mothers & Working Conditions
Schedule Adjustments – Pregnant women, particularly over three months due, will need schedule adjustments and time-off with pay. Given the Employment Rights Act, pregnant women cannot be discriminated against in the workforce by employers unwilling to compensate them due to a lack of productivity. Therefore, temporarily adjusting the worker’s hours and time slots is imperative. In addition, employers may need to adjust the working conditions as well if applicable – for example, a sitting area within a manufacturing station that normally would not be offered. As the pregnancy continues to grow closer to expectancy, female workers should be granted paid leave from work for as long as necessary. This special consideration is for the protection of her health and her child’s health.
Resting Areas – Repositioning pregnant workers throughout the facility or job site is imperative as the process moves along and matures. Workplace regulations require employers to provide suitable rest facilities and bathroom accessibilities at all times for expectant mothers. This regulation, and all of the special health considerations for female pregnant workers, applies when the employee informs her employer that she is pregnant and has all of the appropriate medical certificates from licensed doctors.
General Hazards – In addition to the standard extended resting times and accessibility to various facilities within the workplace, pregnant worker health and safety regulations also protect the expectant mother from general workplace hazards otherwise part of the everyday job. These general hazards are dangerous for expectant mothers, especially on a chronic basis. Some of the main general issues are noise, heat, vibrations, and movement. All underground mine work and chemical exposure is forbidden once the expectant mother informs her employer that she is pregnant, and doctors deem conditions too harsh for child growth. Handling of heavy loads and exposure to harsh temperature changes are not recommended and will create an environment with potential for a lawsuit.
Limiting the Use of Machinery – Vibration of the body is one of the primary concerns with child growth and pregnant workers. Excess movement will cause fatigue, but equally important is the avoidance of excess shaking of the abdomen, especially situations of physical shocks or direct contact with the abdomen area.
Hazardous Elements – Lead and lead substances are extremely dangerous for expectant mothers and complete removal from the job site is required. In addition, work with rubella, toxoplasma, and pressurization chambers is extremely dangerous and should not be part of the daily routine for a pregnant worker. If the health and safety of the child is compromised and notification has been made to the employer without proper action, the immediate employer and overall company are subject to lawsuits in the future without coverage.
Understanding the special considerations for pregnant workers is essential for your trained safety professionals within your organization. Proper training programs are always encouraged, and online references are available for consultation on the proper application of policies involving expectant mother workers.
The writer of this article, Matthew Hall, is a freelance writer with a special focus on occupational health and safety, and covers a wide variety of topics in this field. For those needing assistance on improving their health and safety program he highly recommends paying a visit to for consultation and software. You can learn more about Matthew on Google+.