Work safety for you and your baby

19 Feb 2019

Do you know that you have the right to a safe working environment for you and your unborn baby? Yes, as a pregnant woman or even father-to-be, you have very specific legal rights regarding your workspace and the birth of your baby.

Legally, your employer is required by the Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees During Pregnancy and After The Birth of a Child to ensure that any pregnant woman is able to work in an environment free of health risks and safety hazards.

If your job title requires you to work in a hazardous environment, it is the responsibility of your employer to have a list of other positions available where risks are eliminated. An increasing number of workplaces have drawn up a pregnancy policy with HR that allow you to openly discuss any special considerations you may need with your boss and HR officer.

There’s no need to be worried about discrimination or dismissal as a result of your pregnancy, with a section in the code and The Constitution covering this topic and safeguarding you against it. If you’re still not happy, you can call the Department of Labour on 0800 20 90 20 for advice.

What is a safe working environment?

According to the code there are four types of hazards from which you and your unborn baby should be protected. These areas are: physical safety which refers to extreme heat, radioactive environments and noise pollution, among other things; ergonomic hazards cover five areas which include awkward postures and sitting or standing for long periods. Biological hazards refer to exposure to bacteria and viruses that can infect and harm the baby, and chemical hazards are substances that may cause abnormalities.

If you are aware of these substances that may affect you and your child at your workplace, contact your safety representative. If you don't have one, bring it up with your boss, as well as with your HR officer.

Are computers a hazard?

No evidence has been presented that prolonged hours staring at a computer screen can be harmful to your or your baby. If the work you are doing is causing you stress and resulting in contractions, however, you should talk to your boss, HR officer or medical specialist.

If you get the chance to rest or even nap at work, you should take the opportunity to destress. It’ll do you and your baby a world of good.

For more information on your rights in the workplace during pregnancy, read over the coder here: Labour Guide.