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That Nursery Life’s Guide to Conducting Risk Assessments for Pregnant Employees

Pregnant caucasian woman with hands on her belly
Photographer: Anastasiia Chepinska | Source: Unsplash

Conducting Risk Assessments for Pregnant Employees in Early Years

As an employer, you know that your duty is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your staff in general. But what extra steps need to be taken for pregnant employees?

For an employee who is pregnant, has given birth in the past six months, or is breastfeeding, the physiological changes involved can put them at a higher level of risk than other employees.

Covid-19:

When considering risk from any infectious or contagious disease, a high level of risk at work is deemed to be that which is in addition to the level to which an expectant employee, or an employee who has recently given birth, may be exposed to outside the workplace.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been advised that pregnant workers follow strict social distancing to reduce the risk of severe illness. Some pregnant workers will be at greater risk of severe illness from coronavirus. They are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable and they should stay at home as much as possible and work from home if they can. If working from home is not possible (which is likely, given the nature of Early Years’ work) pregnant workers should be placed on paid leave.

Unsure of how to proceed with a pregnant worker? Follow our workflow below:

Question 1 - How many weeks pregnant is the employee?

If less than 30 weeks, go to Question 2.

If 30 weeks or more, go to Question 4.

Question 2 - Does the employee have any relevant additional medical conditions? Such as:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • They are a smoker (they shouldn’t be during pregnancy, but you should factor it into your assessment)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

If no, go to Question 3.

If yes, go to Question 4.

Question 3 - Can the employee stay at least six feet away from other staff members and children while at work (for example, being reallocated to office work rather than face-to-face with children)?

If no, go to Question 4.

If yes, the employee should be able to still work in-setting, as long as general precautions are taken (masks, hand sanitiser, etc.) and provided that both employee and employer feel comfortable with their level of safety.

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Question 4 - Can the employee work from home?

If yes, arrangements should be made for the employee to work from home.

If no, the employee should be suspended on paid leave. This is in line with normal requirements under regulation 16(3) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

When writing your risk assessment, visit hse.gov.uk and thegrid.org.uk for templates, examples and further guidance. Risk assessments should be ground-up pieces of work, and while templates can be a useful point of reference, you should avoid the temptation to copy and paste. The point of your risk assessment is to think about the particular hazards present to your employees, children and stakeholders within the environment and context of your setting and to develop your own clearly considered approach.

Further reading

Risk assessment templates and examples:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/risk/risk-assessment-template-and-examples.htm

http://www.thegrid.org.uk/info/healthandsafety/risk_assessment.shtml

Risk assessments for pregnant employees:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/faqs.htm#:~:text=If%20you%20are%20notified%20that,any%20new%20risks%20have%20arisen

Protecting pregnant employees in the coronavirus pandemic:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/protect-people.htm#pregnant_workers

Pregnant employee risk assessment flowchart:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/flowchart.htm

Working safely in the coronavirus pandemic:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm#vulnerable_workers

Risk assessment during the coronavirus pandemic:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/risk-assessment.htm

Managing risks at work:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/risk/steps-needed-to-manage-risk.htm

If you found this useful, check out our FREE Early Years Covid19 policy - just click HERE.

Taking only moments to complete for your whole setting, this automatically filled template, part of our wider collection of Early Years Policies, will save you oodles of time and stress and better prepare you for any future inspections.