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Share Pregnancy and work: prevention of occupational risks


Continuing with our series of Work and Pregnancy, we will address one of the issues that most concern all mothers: the health and well-being of the fetus and the mother herself in the performance of their work duties. At the labor level, awareness of the prevention of occupational hazards, health surveillance and improvement of the physical conditions of the position have been imposed by legal regulations, independently of the workers' own circumstances.

Unfortunately, this risk prevention is not carried out equally in all companies, nor are all workers correctly aware that they "work to live and do not live to work, " so health care at work It is a joint task of all the members of the company, independently of the position or position held in the company.

Outside of the normal assumptions of risk prevention, pregnancy is an exceptional circumstance that requires extreme protection of the mother and future child and as we discussed last week, in certain jobs, the adaptation and improvement of working conditions It has to be an immediate task to carry out. In this post, we will discern what are the main risk factors in the workplace for the pregnant woman and how we should prevent certain circumstances that can be very dangerous.

Physical and ergonomic factors

Within the physical factors are framed all activities that may involve fetal injuries or cause a detachment of the placenta, in particular, are considered as physical factors: * Shocks, vibrations or movements. * Manual manipulation of heavy loads that involve risks, in particular dorsolumbar. * Noise * Non-ionizing radiation. * Extreme cold and heat. * Movements and postures, displacements, both inside and outside the workplace, mental and physical fatigue and other physical burdens related to the activity of the pregnant worker, who has given birth or during lactation. Any job that requires some type of physical or environmental activity within those described, requires the elimination of these factors or change of job in the company if it was not possible. As an example, we have jobs inside cold stores, loading and unloading works or work with machinery that transmits vibrations in a continuous way.

Regarding the subject of movements, it is obvious that bending over and getting up is not a considerable physical effort in normal circumstances, but it can be an almost impossible task for pregnant women with more than five - six months of gestation.

Psychosocial factors

Within the relationship of psychosocial risks, we must highlight the factors that condition the normal and standard development of a pregnancy . Among them I highlight mainly: * Working shift, which causes important time differences in the periods of rest and sleep of the mother. * Excessive demand for work, imposed by a high rate of activity, stress, overload of tasks and extensions of the workday beyond the allowed hours. * Repetitive movements and excess of displacements. A repetitive and continuous movement generates a physical distension for the rest of the immobile body, a circumstance that affects the normal development of the fetus. In this line, the activity of driving or traveling in a permanent way is also framed by the intrinsic risk of road journeys.

Chemical and biologic factors

The chemical and biological factors are those that originate from the manipulation or exposure to certain chemical products or certain working conditions that without being a priori dangerous, can seriously compromise the health of the fetus and the mother. These factors are the easiest to identify since in the packaging and labeling of all chemical products there are a series of codes and letters that prevent intrinsic risks to their handling. In the case of risk for pregnancy we have the following four codifications:

This classification includes two large groups of products, those that are really dangerous, labeled with the letters R61, R40 and R46, which require a complete absence of manipulation during pregnancy, or those labeled with R63 or R40 that allow their use as long as it has fully effective barrier means. This classification must always be found on the product label, like this example label:

It may be the case that our work, a priori, does not use risky chemical products, or we think that we do not use it. Imagine work in an industrial laundry, graphic arts or paint stores. Big mistake, since all of them use products that may have some of the previous classifications. It is our mission and the company's mission to check the list of chemicals used and the extent of the risk to pregnancy.

The complete lists of products that can not be contacted during pregnancy or lactation are detailed in RD 39/1997 on Regulation of Prevention Services, in annexes VII and VIII. Give the extension of the same, this type of evaluation has to be carried out always by the delegate of prevention of occupational risks of the company that provides its services in it.

General procedures to follow in all cases

As we have already explained in previous posts, the mother must communicate the situation of pregnancy in all the cases that take decisions that imply changes in the prevention of risks for the pregnancy, the fetus or for the periods during the lactation.

All of the risk factors presented here are general factors and there are many more, given that each person may have specific conditions and the performance of their job may generate risks not considered in this case.

The prevention services together with the facultative of the Mutual of Accidents are responsible for verifying each of the jobs, perform a thorough analysis of it and take the necessary measures so that the pregnancy is not altered by any work circumstance. In front of any type of doubt, to suspend the labor task as first advice and to resort to the people in charge of the company .

In Babies and More | Work and pregnancy: labor rights of pregnant women