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Do a risk assessment to keep your pregnant employees safe!

by , 25 February 2013
The rumour mill is starting to circulate over whether Caster Semenya is pregnant or not. Do you have a similar case in your office? It's a difficult one to handle, as most employers know that you can't discriminate against employees based on pregnancy. So you're certainly not allowed to send an employee for a pregnancy or medical test if you suspect she may be pregnant. But if the nature of your employee's job is a danger to her and her unborn child, you'll need to step in to protect her...

Identity Kenya has tweeted that rumours currently making social media rounds saying athlete Caster Semenya is pregnant aren't true.
But you know how the rumour mill is – once something is said, it spreads like wildfire.
That's why it's important to check whether an employee is pregnant or not the second you hear a rumour.
Unfortunately, you'll only be able to ask your employee if she's pregnant if it's an inherent requirement of the job that she's not pregnant.
An example of this would be if a job applicant is applying for a job in a chemical plant, as the chemicals could severely harm her unborn child.
So if it's not a requirement, you'll have to wait for her to tell you herself.
Here's what to do to protect your pregnant employees in the workplace
But to mitigate your risks, the Labour Bulletin suggests you make sure your employment contract states that for the health and safety of pregnant employees and their unborn children, employees must disclose their pregnancy as soon as they're aware of it.
Then, if your employee does tell you that she's pregnant, your first step will be to explain your company's maternity leave policy to her.
Conduct a health and safety risk assessment for your pregnant employee
Your next step will be to conduct a risk assessment of any workplace practices and potential workplace exposures that may affect the employee, like the chemical exposure mentioned above.
Labourprotect says that if the evaluation reveals there is a risk to the health and safety of the pregnant employee or the foetus, you'll need to inform the employee of this risk and adjust the employee's working conditions to prevent exposure to the risk.
The pregnant employee should also be given appropriate training in the hazards and the preventive measures to be taken.
By doing so, you'll be sure your pregnant employee remains healthy and safe in the workplace.

Use the HIRA (hazard identification and risk assessment) process in the Health and Safety Training Manual to identify hazards and risks in your company and train your pregnant employees on it. 

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