Monthly Archives: September 2013

New and Expectant Mothers

Employers must ensure that they protect new and expectant mothers from potential hazards in the workplace.

The law requires employers to assess the risks to their employees, including new and expectant mothers, and do as much as possible to control those risks.

This risk assessment must take account of work, which is of a kind, which could involve risks to the health and safety of a new or expectant mother because of her condition, or to that of her baby, from any processes, working conditions and physical, biological or chemical agents.

A new or expectant mother is defined as an employee who is pregnant, or has given birth within the previous 6 months, or who is breast-feeding.

The Assessment

The risk assessment must consider the following:

Manual handling – all expectant and new mothers must avoid significant manual handling operations.

The use of chemicals and substances – where identified as being hazardous, the use of chemicals must be eliminated or substituted from the work program of the employee.

Working whilst standing – where the employee’s role involves considerable standing, there should be regular short rest breaks.

Operating hazardous machinery – operating certain types of machinery (i.e. noisy, vibrating, etc.) can promote fatigue, discomfort and put the employee’s safety at risk. The use of this type of equipment should be avoided.

Night work – this type of work can cause concern or stress to certain individuals. Where this is identified, the person should be offered the option of transferring to daytime work.

New and Expectant Mothers

When you are notified in writing by an employee that she:

  • Is pregnant
  • Has given birth within the previous 6 months; or
  • Is breast-feeding

You must:

Identify any risks to the new or expectant mother.

Where there are risks to the health and safety of a new or expectant mother, which cannot be avoided by the preventative measures taken, you will need to:

  • Alter her working conditions and / or hours if possible and would avoid the risk. If this is not possible you must:
  • Offer alternative work. If this is not possible:
  • Suspend her from work. The Employment Rights Act 1996 requires that this be on full pay.


You should ensure that all new and expectant mothers are provided with comprehensive and relevant information on:

  • The risks to their health and safety as identified by the risk assessments; and
  • The measures adopted by the employer to control these risks

Review of Assessments

The risk assessment for the pregnant worker must be kept under review. Although the hazards are likely to remain the same throughout the pregnancy the risk may vary through the different stages of pregnancy.

Co-ordination, speed of movement and reach are all likely to be impaired because of the pregnant workers’ increase in size.

Rest Facilities

Facilities should be provided for expectant and nursing mothers to rest, which are:

  • Conveniently situated in relation to sanitary facilities; and
  • Include the facility to lie down.


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Risk Assessments

The requirement for employers and the self-employed to undertake a suitable and sufficient

risk assessment comes from The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations

1999. Regulation 3 of these regulations states:

(6) Where the employer employs five or more employees, he shall record-

(a) the significant findings of the assessment; and

(b) any group of his employees identified by it as being especially at risk.

Part (b) requires employers to take particular account of young people and new and

expectant mothers.

It should be noted that if an employer has less than 5 employees it is still good practice to

record the findings of the assessment.

Employers do not need specific training or qualifications to carry out a risk assessment. As

an employer, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety

duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and


A risk assessment is an examination of hazards that could potentially cause harm to people.

You will need to look at the effectiveness of existing control measures and the need for

further controls.

There are 5 steps to a risk assessment these are as follows:

1. Identify the hazards

First you need to work out how people could be harmed. As well as using your knowledge

and experience you can do this by walking around the business, asking employees and

looking at accident or ill health records.

2. Decide who might be harmed and how

You must identify which groups of people are at risk from these hazards, taking into

consideration the presence of cleaners, visitors, contractors and members of the public.

3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution

You will need to look at the controls you have in place and compare this with best practice to

see if there’s more you should be doing to bring yourself up to standard. This may mean that

additional control measures are required to reduce the risk to the lowest possible level.

4. Record your findings and implement them

Recording your risk assessments is a legal requirement where you have 5 or more

employees. However it is always good practice to do this as it shows employees and clients

that you have considered the risks and put relevant control measures in place. Your

employees can then refer to the risk assessment and make sure they are adhering to the

control measures in place.

5. Review your assessment and update if necessary

A risk assessment must be reviewed on a regular basis. It is important to review a risk

assessment after significant changes within the business such as new equipment, a change

in procedures or after an accident. Make sure employees are aware of the risk assessment

and the control measures in place. Involve employees in the process as they will have a

good understanding of the risks they come across every day.


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Unannounced site checks

From 2 September, HSE inspectors are carrying out unannounced site checks where refurbishment projects of repair works are underway.
These checks are part of a nationwide drive aimed at reducing death, injury and ill-health in the
construction industry.
Inspectors will visit sites to ensure high-risk activities, such as working at height and work which could result in exposure to harmful dusts, are being properly managed.
The inspectors will also check if basic welfare facilities, such as toilets and handwashing facilities have been provided if needed.
If you need to understand what you need to do, contact us, Walker Health and Safety Services can help you put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe.
Please contact us if you would like an audit
Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.



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