Safety during Pregnancy

Introduction

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

Note - As the earliest stages of pregnancy are the most critical ones for the developing child it is in the employee’s best interest to let her employer know she is pregnant as soon as possible.

What should a manager do when he/she is informed that an employee is pregnant?

Once a manager 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.

Risk assessments 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 the hazards already identified. Click here to access the Pregnancy Risk Assessment.

Is DCU Required to provide a rest room?

Regulation (24) states that a rest room will be available for pregnant, post natal and breastfeeding employees to allow them to lie down and rest in appropriate conditions.

  • Glasnevin Campus - XG‐38
  • St Pats Campus - B131
  • All Hallows Campus - Location to be confirmed

I am pregnant /breastfeeding and work with radioactive sources. What damage can the cause?

Ionising Radiation 

Significant exposure to ionising radiation is harmful to the foetus. Work procedures should be designed to keep exposure of the pregnant employee as low as reasonably practicable and certainly below the statutory dose limit for a pregnant employee. The guidance offered by the Radiation Protection Officer should be adhered too in such circumstances and all internal procedures and protocols relating to this risk implemented.

Non Ionising Radiation

Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers are at no greater risk than other workers when working with optical radiation. Exposure to electric and magnetic fields when working with electromagnetic fields and waves within current recommendations is not known to cause harm to the foetus or the mother. However extreme over-exposure to radio-frequency radiation can raise body temperature making the pregnant mother uncomfortable.

Can extremes of cold or heat affect my unborn baby or me?

No specific problems arise from working in extreme cold but warm clothing should be provided as per risk assessment.

What biological agents are harmful to me while pregnant?

Some Biological agents are known to cause harm to the foetus, or physical and neurological damage. 

Refer to the HSA Pregnant at Work FAQ for further information about working with Biological Agents. 

What chemical /biological agents are known to endanger the health of pregnant employee and their unborn child(ren)?

 Hazard Statements and associated risks from substances labelled as follows:

  • H340/H341May cause genetic defects/suspected of causing genetic defects
  • H350/H350i/H351May cause cancer/may cause cancer by inhalation/suspected of causing cancer
  • H360/ may damage fertility or the unborn child
  • H360D/ may damage the unborn child
  • H360FD/may damage fertility, may damage the unborn child
  • H360Fd may damage fertility, suspected of damaging the unborn child
  • H360Df may damage the unborn child, suspected of damaging fertility
  • H361 suspected of damaging fertility or the unborn child
  • H361d suspected of damaging the unborn child
  • H361fd suspected of damaging fertility, suspected of damaging the unborn child
  • H362 may cause harm to breast-fed children
  • H370 causes damage to organs
  • H371 may cause damage to organs
  • Substances and mixtures referred to in Schedule 1 (see Appendix 1 for list ) to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Carcinogens) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 78 of 2001) (amended by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Carcinogens) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 622 of 2015)),
  • Substances and mixtures released by a process referred to in Schedule 1 to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Carcinogens) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 78 of 2001) (amended by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Carcinogens) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 622 of 2015)),
  • mercury and mercury derivatives,
  • antimitotic (cytotoxic) drugs,
  • carbon monoxide,
  • chemical agents of known and dangerous percutaneous absorption.

I work for long periods at a display screen – is this harmful to my unborn child?

The provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, Part 2, Chapter 4, Display Screen Equipment (DSE) apply to all regular users of DSE's. There are no documented risks associated with pregnant employees working with display screen equipment (DSE).

What is Health and Safety Leave?

If a risk is identified, the employer must eliminate the risk/adjust the work. If the employer cannot eliminate the risk, the employee must do the following:

  1. Change or adapt the work practices to eliminate the risk, including changes to shift patterns or work location. ·
  2. Be provided with suitable alternative employment if not possible then:
  3. The employee must be granted Health and Safety Leave in accordance with Section 18 of the Maternity Protection Act, 1994 revised 2004. Health & Safety Leave is 21 paid days off and is only granted if the previous steps cannot be implemented

Mothers Room Procedure (PDF)