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I have just got pregnant. Do I have any special health and safety protection at work?
Yes. Several health and safety laws require your employer to pay special attention to any workplace hazards that might affect you or your baby. These are:
- the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (These require employers to include risks to new and expectant mothers in their risk assessments. This applies whether or not your employer knows you are pregnant.);
- the Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999;
- the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002; and
- the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
You are also protected against sex, pregnancy and maternity discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.
The law requires employers to carry out a risk assessment for all workers to assess all health and safety risks they are exposed to at work. This includes all female workers of childbearing age, including new and expectant mothers, looking at risks that arise from any work processes, working condition or physical, biological or chemical agents.
Some workplaces present particular risks to pregnant workers. Whether your employer should carry out a separate risk assessment as soon as you confirm that you are pregnant will depend on the sort of work you do.
Even though there is no free-standing legal obligation on every employer to always carry out a specific separate risk assessment once you confirm you are pregnant, carrying out a risk assessment is nevertheless the most sensible way of identifying what new risks are presented by the pregnancy and any extra action that may need to be taken.