Health and Safety Directorate

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New and Expectant Mothers

New and Expectant Mothers

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW), require employers to take into account health and safety risks to New and Expectant Mothers in the workplace. New and expectant mothers also have a duty to protect themselves and their children. Staff who are, or believe they are pregnant must notify their employer (line manager) in writing as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed.They are also required to provide written notification if they are breast feeding so that measures can be taken to control any risks to their health and safety or that of their child.
Once advised of the pregnancy the line manager should undertake a New and Expectant Mothers risk assessment with the employee.

Risk Assessment for Non-laboratory Based Activities

In conjunction with the person concerned, line managers should use the form New and Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment to examine the working environment and work activities. The aim is to determine whether there are any risks present and what action is required to remove or reduce these risks.
The main risks to new and expectant mothers in non-laboratory environments are:

  • slips and trips
  • manual handling
  • continuous standing
  • prolonged sitting
  • fatigue

The impact of pregnancy at work will vary during pregnancy; therefore assessments must be regarded as live documents and regularly reviewed to take into account aspects such as morning sickness, headaches, backache, tiredness, balance and comfort. If, as a result of the risk assessment, there is genuine cause for concern then changes in work pattern or duties will need to be considered. For further advice regarding potential changes to duties please seek advice from the Occupational Health Service 

Risk Assessment for Non-Office Based Activities

New and Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment

This form should be completed jointly by the line manager and the employee for non-office based activities. Risks such as exposure to chemical, biological agents and physical working conditions should be assessed. If required, take advice on medical issues, the risk assessment and radiation hazards from: Occupational Health Service, or Health and Safety Directorate or/and Radiation Protection Supervisors.


HSE guidance recommends provision of suitable rest and hygiene facilities for employees who are pregnant or breast feeding.
Pregnant and breast feeding women may need to use toilet facilities more frequently. The need for physical rest may require that the woman has somewhere she can sit or lie down comfortably in private, without disturbance at appropriate intervals.
Access to clean drinking water should also be available.

Return to Work

If an employee returns to work within 6 months of delivery or if she will still be breast feeding after returning, the risk assessment for her work should be reviewed.
The employee may need assistance with or temporary alteration of work routines if the work is physically demanding e.g. jobs that involve lifting and handling of loads, or prolonged periods of standing or walking.
Risk assessments for work with toxic chemicals, unsealed ionising radiation sources or pathogens should be reviewed to consider the risk of exposures that could result in contamination of breast milk.
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