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Overview

The purpose of this guidance is to highlight some of the known hazards to new and expectant mothers that may arise from their work and to provide a source information on how the risks should be managed. This information is aimed at both staff and students. The majority of women working and studying within the University will be work in low risk environments where there are minimal risks and general pregnancy issues will be encountered . High risk environments include work with teratogens, carcinogens, cytotoxic drugs, steroids, certain biological agents, ionising radiation, and chemicals contra-indicated for pregnancy and/or breast feeding. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000 require that the risks that arise from work are assessed and controlled and, more specifically, that special attention is given to identifying and controlling risks that might affect women who are pregnant, who have recently given birth or who are breast feeding.

The University has a duty to protect students from exposure to such risks and consideration should also be given to work they may need to do as part of their studies. As far as is reasonably practicable, risks to new and expectant mothers should be eliminated from undergraduate courses, particularly practical classes.

There are two levels of assessment required; a generic risk assessment and an individual risk assessment.

(a) Generic risk assessment
Heads of School and Directorates must ensure that activities within their area of control that may pose a significant risk to women of child bearing age are identified and that action is taken, where appropriate, to minimise the potential for harm from these activities. Information should be provided to staff and students about the arrangements within the School or Directorate for control of these risks.

(b) Individual risk assessment
When a member of staff or a student advises that they are pregnant or breast feeding, a specific individual risk assessment must be made of the work carried out by that person to ensure they are not put at risk during and immediately after their pregnancy. Particular attention should be paid to the actual tasks that they have to perform during their work or studies to ensure that any risks associated with these are adequately controlled. This assessment should be regarded as an ongoing process throughout the course of the pregnancy as the capabilities of the person involved may change as the pregnancy progresses. The nature of the tasks they are required to do may need to be temporarily modified.

Risk assessment forms
A risk assessment form for expectant or breast feeding mothers is provided for use. Examples of completed risk assessments are also provided: Clerical Officer (Office) and Student (Laboratory).

Further detailed guidance can be found HERE or download the full guidance HERE. More general information including the HSE guidance document entitled ‘New and Expectant Mothers at Work’ (HSG122) can be found HERE. The University Occupational Health and Safety Service may be contacted where advice on pregnancy related matters is required.

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