Every pregnant woman should be sure that a workplace pregnancy risk assessment is done early on, either by herself or by the company she is employed with.
Why A Workplace Pregnancy Risk Assessment Matters
Assessing risks of most situations is important during pregnancy. From what you eat and wear to the kind of aspirin you take and the exercise you do -- these are all important when it comes to risk assessment. Workplace risk assessments during pregnancy are especially important because there can be a lot of hazards even in what may seem like the safest of offices. Since it would be impossible to discuss the risks of all types of workplaces in one short article, let's look at common risks of the workplace for pregnant women.
Computers pose numerous issues to any workers who spends long hours at a desk. During pregnancy, the risks increase. The following is what to assess when looking at computers use during pregnancy:
Lighting: Light shining directly overhead can strain your eyes and cause major eyestrain. Indirect lighting from lamps are a much better choice. Anyone can get eyestrain, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that pregnant women can be more at risk due to changing hormones, vision, and drier-than-normal eyes. Besides making lighting changes to the room, you can get an anti-glare screen for the computer.
Sitting: If you complete a workplace pregnancy risk assessment and find that you spend a lot of time sitting, you may feel safer. However, sitting can be just as bad for a pregnant body as long periods of standing. Be sure to have a stepstool to put your feet on and get up for breaks at least once or twice an hour - even a quick stretch can help. Additionally, you should have a proper desk chair with a firm back and armrests.
Ergonomics: Make sure that you are using good ergonomics during pregnancy. There is a correct way to sit at a computer. Not doing so may make you feel extra aches and pains due to blood level changes and hormone changes during pregnancy.
Part of the problem of lifting is the bending involved. If you're going to lift an item, OSHA recommends bending at the knees, not the waist. Keep whatever you're lifting close in to your body (not so easy with a big belly) and never twist your body while lifting. If you feel it's too heavy, simply ask for help. Even if you are not pregnant, lifting something beyond your ability is unwise. If your job has too many lifting requirements, there's not much to assess: you simply cannot be lifting items throughout your pregnancy.
Your employer is required to make accommodations for you during pregnancy under many circumstances, such as not having you lift items. To learn about your rights at work during pregnancy, take a look at maternity leave laws.
There are a lot of harsh chemicals at many workplaces. During your pregnancy, it's best to note where all these harsh chemicals can be found and adjust your work area accordingly. If you work with chemicals, take precautions such as protective clothing, eyewear, and other gear.
If you work somewhere where standing is required, you may be able to have your employer switch you to a desk job for at least some of the time. Standing for long periods can cause blood to pool in your legs and, when pregnant, this is more likely to lead to dizziness or pain.
Part of a workplace pregnancy risk assessment includes the things you do at work. One thing you should do right away is get a comfortable pair of shoes and support maternity pantyhose to reduce your chances of varicose veins. If you can't sit and do your job, you should put one leg up on a stool and switch it with the other leg every once in a while.
Most companies should help you complete a pregnancy risk assessment. If they don't have the means, be sure to do one yourself so that you and your growing baby stay healthy.