Year : 2018  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 59-

Pregnancy risk assessment at the workplace

Ganesh K Kulkarni 
 Editor – IJOEM Occupational Health Consultant, Thane (W), Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ganesh K Kulkarni
Occupational Health Consultant, Chesnut Plaza, Shop No. 16, Second Floor, Opp. Endenwoods, B. Nathpai Marg, Thane - 400 610, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Kulkarni GK. Pregnancy risk assessment at the workplace.Indian J Occup Environ Med 2018;22:59-59

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni GK. Pregnancy risk assessment at the workplace. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 May 19 ];22:59-59
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Full Text

In India, out of the total workforce of 5.37 million, only 7%–8% are employed in the organized sector. Assuming a similar distribution even among the urban female workforce, one can estimate that there are approximately 3.2 million urban women employees in the organized sector. Generally, safety and health concerns for women workers get low priority among predominantly male employees in the urban organized sector.[1] There is no legislation in India pertaining to pregnancy risk assessment, and the scope of legislation is limited to maternity benefits. It is our plea that every employee-focused organization with concerns for female employees must adopt the proactive policy of “Workplace Pregnancy Risk Assessment” within the scope of their overall Reproductive Health Policy.

The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that there is a comprehensive assessment of hazards and risks associated with the workplace for a new or expectant mother (a woman who is pregnant, has given birth within the past 6 months, or is breastfeeding).[2]

Your workplace risk assessment should already consider any risks to female employees of childbearing age and in particular, risks to new and expectant mothers (e.g. from working conditions or the use of physical, chemical, or biological agents). Any risks identified must be included and managed as part of the general workplace risk assessment.[2]

If you are notified that an employee is pregnant, breastfeeding, or has given birth within the past 6 months, you should check your workplace risk assessment to see whether any new risks have arisen. If risks are identified during the pregnancy, in the first 6 months after birth, or while the employee is still breastfeeding, you must take appropriate, sensible action to reduce, remove, or control them.[2]

The expectant mother may be at risk from processes, working conditions, or physical, biological, and chemical agents, and these risks will vary depending on her health and at different stages of her pregnancy. Some of the more common risks might be lifting/carrying heavy loads, standing, or sitting still for a long period of time, exposure to infectious diseases, exposure to toxic chemicals, work-related stress, workstations and posture, exposure to radioactive material, threat of violence at the workplace, and long working hours.[3] In India, one must consider other factors such as travel time to the workplace and back home, the mode of transport and quality of roads, especially during the rainy season, business travel, and the risk of slip, trip, and fall. One must look at facilities such as restrooms, breastfeeding rooms, availability of nursing help, records on their personal physicians, and vaccination.

The process for going through pregnancy risk assessment, healthcare and vaccination facilities, information on maternity benefits, modified work during latter months of pregnancy, return to work after adequate leave, breastfeeding rooms, and crèche facilities needs to be communicated to all expectant mothers in the organization by the health management team.

Such initiatives beyond regulatory requirements will motivate and reassure female employees for a safe and stress-free pregnancy. The objective of this editorial is to sensitize policymakers and healthcare providers and encourage innovative thinking for health and safety of female employees at the workplace. I am sure this will trigger interest in occupational healthcare providers to realign the overall Reproductive Policy for their respective organizations. It is also my sincere hope that such initiatives in the formal sector shall pave the way for reforms in the unorganized informal sector as well.


1Statistical Outline of India 2014-2015. 37th ed.
2Health and Safety Executive: New and expectant mothers, FAQs. Available from: ' Guidance ' New and expectant mothers. [Last accessed on 2018 Sep 22].
3Available from: [Last accessed on 2018 Sep 22].