Human Resources South Africa|Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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Code of good practice on Pregnancy and Afterbirth 

PREGNANT concept

HAZARD:
Non-ionising (electromagnetic) radiation

WHAT IS THE RISK:
It has not been established that the levels of non-ionising electromagnetic radiation likely to be generated by video display units (VDU’s) or other office equipment constitutes a risk to human reproductive health.

HOW TO AVOID THE RISK:
Women who are pregnant or who are planning children and are worried about working with VDU’s should discuss their concerns with an occupational health practitioner.

The following practical measures can be adopted to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields in offices (emfs):

– Workers should sit at arm’s length from the computer (70cm) and about 120cm from the backs and sides of co-workers ‘ monitors.

– Workers should have regular breaks from VDU work, as this reduces exposure time.

– Radiation-reducing glare screens (or shields) can reduce the electrical component of the emfs. However, shields that distort the image on the monitor should not be used.
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HAZARD:
Work in compressed air and diving

WHAT IS THE RISK:
People who work in compressed air are at risk of developing the bends. It is not clear whether pregnant women are more at risk of getting the bends but potentially the foetus could be seriously harmed by gas bubbles.

HOW TO AVOID THE RISK:
Pregnant workers should not work in compressed air because of potential harm to (he foetus from gas bubbles. For those who have recently given birth there is a small increase in the risk of the bends. The Diving Regulations, 1991, under OHSA, must be complied with.
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SCHEDULE TWO
ERGONOMIC HAZARDS

HAZARD:
Physical and mental strain

WHAT IS THE RISK:
Excessive physical or mental pressure may cause stress and give rise to anxiety and raised blood pressure during pregnancy.

HOW TO AVOID THE RISK:
Employers should ensure that hours of work and the volume and pacing of work are not excessive and that, where practical, employees have some measure of control over how their work is organised. Seating should be available where appropriate. Longer or more frequent rest breaks will help to avoid or reduce fatigue.
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HAZARD:
Physically strenuous work

WHAT IS THE RISK:
Employees whose work is physically strenuous should be considered to be at increased risk of injury when pregnant or after the birth of a child.

HOW TO AVOID THE RISK:
Heavy physical exertion, including the lifting or handling of heavy loads, should be avoided from early pregnancy onwards.
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HAZARD:
Prolonged sitting or standing

WHAT IS THE RISK:
Sitting or standing for long periods during pregnancy can have serious health consequences. Standing for long unbroken periods can result in complications during pregnancy such as deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins, premature labour and even miscarriage.

HOW TO AVOID THE RISK:
Workstations should be adjustable to allow for necessary changes in posture. Pregnant employees who sit for long periods should be provided with a proper chair with lumbar support rest to prevent lower back pain. A footrest could alleviate pain and discomfort in the case of both sitting and standing workers.

Pregnant employees who work in a stationary position should be given frequent rest breaks. Mobility during breaks should be encouraged to help prevent swelling of the ankles and improve blood circulation.

Where work organisation permits task rotation, this should be done to allow the worker to do tasks that involve standing, sitting and moving.
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