Date: 03.08.2015     Last updated: 06.09.2016 at 12.12
A guide to health and safety considerations for pregnant and nursing mothers. In general day-to-day work activity is not harmful in pregnancy. There are, however, some work factors that can cause harm and need to be considered.

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Miscarriage risk to pregnant women from Chlamydiosis, which is a bacteria that can be carried by sheep/aborted lambs.
  • Lifting and carrying heavy/awkward objects.
  • Infectious diseases.
  • Tiredness and fatigue, and reduced mobility.
  • Vibration and noise.
  • Hazardous substances/ionising radiation.
  • Lack of good medical care.
  • Working in travel advisory or hazardous environments.

Zika Fever

  • Women travellers who are, or may be, pregnant (in any trimester) or planning to become pregnant and who might travel to areas where any mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya, dengue, malaria and Zika are known to occur, should avoid travel and not deploy to an area where active Zika transmission is being reported. For more details please access our Zika Fever page.

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • A specific risk assessment is required by law for new and expectant mothers. The BBC requires this at the earliest opportunity, once advised by an employee that they are pregnant. It should be completed by the line manager and individual, with advice from the pregnant mothers obstetrician or midwife, if required. An assessment template is available in the "Useful documents" section (right hand panel).

Control Measures

General Controls

  • Pregnant members of the team must not go near sheep or any animals that are pregnant or have recently aborted or given birth due to the potential risk from chlamydiosis, toxoplasmosis, and listeriosos. 
  • Avoid covering animal stories, visiting farms and visiting agricultural shows.
  • Avoid sending pregnant staff to classroom/ interviews with someone with rash/ illness.
  • Heavy loads, long carry distances etc. should be avoided. If this is unavoidable, activity should be individually assessed. Work within your own limitations, and ask for help when needed.
  • Individual should contact her midwife or health care provider if she has come into contact with a confirmed infectious disease, or person with rash.
  • Get enough rest and do not take on tasks or work that you know in advance are likely to exhaust you. This is because day to day activities including work are likely to make you feel more tired than usual, which is natural.
  • Take into account that as pregnancy progresses, particularly in the third trimester (week 26 onwards), mobility is likely to reduce, compounded by an altered centre of gravity that can affect balance.
  • Minimise off road travel, and take specialist advice on personal risk from whole body vibration, or where the abdomen is exposed to shocks and jolts.
  • Exposing an unborn child to very loud noises should be avoided as a reasonable precaution.
  • Avoid ionising radiation (eg Xrays and standing near satelite uplinks) and any hazardous substances likely to affect the foetus of mother.
  • Identify suitable local hospitals before deployment to international or remote areas.
  • Pregnant women must discuss risks of working in any difficult environment, travel or high risk area with their line manager as soon as possible. A separate risk assessment is required, including medical details (e.g. blood group, specialist requirements), a robust and realistic emergency plan, and that travel abroad can be more hazardous because of your reduced immunity and the potential for vaccinations or medications (e.g. for malaria) to be contraindicated.
  • Your manager can refer you to occupational health if there are any concerns about your health and work during pregnancy.

Division Specific Issues

  • No division specific issues.

FAQs/Did You Know?

  • Being physically active whilst at work has been shown to be good for you and your baby’s health.
  • Chlamydiosis infection has also been associated with handling of boots and clothing contaminated by infected animals, so team members should communicate this to family members who may be pregnant and have contact with the clothing.
  • Body armour does not provide any ballistic protection for the unborn child.
  • Whole body vibration of a low frequency such as riding heavy plant machinery can be harmful to your pregnancy.
  • Some risks maybe highest in the early pregnancy, before notification is made to your manager. 

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This site describes what the BBC does in relation to managing its health, safety and security risks and is intended for those who work directly for the BBC.

It is not intended to provide instruction or guidance on how third parties should manage their risks. The BBC cannot be held liable for how this information is interpreted or used by third parties, nor provide any assurance that adopting it would provide any measure of legal compliance. More information.

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