Ergonomics has to do with work systems that ensure the overall comfort, health and safety for employees - and pregnant employees are certainly no exception.
As an employer, it is your legal obligation to ensure that the health of your pregnant and breastfeeding employees is maintained.
Within this obligation, you should look into any areas which may pose a risk to a pregnant employee. This can involve having to make some adjustments in the workplace.
And it is always worth looking into ergonomic hazards in the workplace when it comes to your pregnant employees. And as shall be seen, even pregnant employees with desk jobs need to be considered, and not just those whose jobs require more physical labour.
Having said that, here are five areas you should look into when considering any ergonomic risk factors with regard to pregnant employees:
Area#1: Heavy physical work
This can involve any movements requiring force, such as lifting heavy objects.
Remember that a woman's musculo-skeletal structure changes due to pregnancy. These can include weight-associated changes such as extra stress on the joints, extra curvature in the lower spine, weakened abdominal muscles can greatly increase the chance of injuries.
So then, it is advised that your pregnant employees avoid physical work yfrom early pregnancy onwards.
Area#2: Frequent bending and twisting of the body
For example, with the musculo-skeletal changes in the body during pregnancy, bending can cause nasty injuries due to more strain being put on the body (because of the pregnancy).
So you might want to lessen the amount of bending and twisting a pregnant employee will undergo in the workplace.
Area#3: Standing for long periods of time
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Remember that the further along a pregnant employee is, the more weight she'll be carrying. Pregnancy can alter posture and put a lot of strain on the body's muscles.
Also, standing for long periods of time can cause varicose veins, premature labour and even miscarriage.
Therefore, encourage rest periods whereby pregnant employees can sit down.
Area#4: Sitting for long periods
Sitting for long periods of time can also be a hazard in that circulation in the legs and feet is more likely to be affected during pregnancy.
So encourage your pregnant employees to get up take a quick walk to increase circulation.
Area#5: Awkward postures when at work
As was stated earlier, pregnancy can alter posture, and so changes in posture must be made in order to accommodate pregnancy.
For example, lower-back rests for chairs and desk changes for a growing belly are just a few changes that should be made for pregnant employees.
*Those were 5 ergonomic hazards you should take note of when it comes to pregnant employees.
Now when it comes to these risk areas for pregnant employees, necessary adjustments should be made in the workplace to ensure their overall comfort, health and safety.
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