Most women choose to continue working while they are pregnant, and, in most cases, there is no reason not to work. However, for women who work around potential hazards, working while pregnant could pose risks to the baby. While these women are entitled to accommodations from their employers, they may be worried about how their employer will react to them taking time off once their baby is born, so they may be reluctant to draw more attention to their pregnancy or ask for anything extra. However, many jobs pose a risk to pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding, and women need to be aware of these dangers to protect their babies and themselves by asking for reasonable accommodations.
Common Workplace Hazards That Are Dangerous for a Pregnant Woman’s Health
Women working in a wide range of professions—such as factory, healthcare, office work, daycare and teaching, laboratory research, and nail and hair care—risk injuries or developing illnesses when they are pregnant. Some dangers they need to watch out for include:
- Anesthetic gases and chemotherapy drugs. Working with anesthetic gases and chemotherapy drugs increases a woman’s risk of a miscarriage. Pregnant women working around chemotherapy drugs are also at greater risk of their babies developing birth defects.
- Chemical disinfectants. These are chemical disinfectants and sterilants used in healthcare settings, beauty salons, and animal hospitals to kill germs and bacteria, not the household disinfectants people buy at the grocery store. Pregnant women exposed to these chemicals face a greater risk of miscarriage or a premature birth.
- Formaldehyde. Health care workers, morticians, laboratory workers, and hair, nail, and beauty salon workers can all be in contact with formaldehyde, with the added risks that they will suffer a miscarriage.
- Infectious agents. Many infections, such as chicken pox, measles, influenza, herpes, and hepatitis B and C can cause a pregnant woman to suffer more serious illnesses than others and could cause her to miscarry. Some of these infections might affect the unborn baby, resulting in birth defects.
- Noise. Pregnant women may not realize that excessive noise at work can cause them to experience more stress, which also could change their bodies and damage their developing babies. Some loud sounds can even pass through the body into the womb, endangering the unborn baby’s hearing. Women working around loud machines, music, large crowds, trucks, sirens, and airplanes are especially at risk.
- Pesticides. Exposure to pesticides could increase a woman’s risk of a miscarriage and of passing the pesticides onto her baby through her breast milk.
- Heavy demands. Too much lifting, standing, or bending can increase a women’s risk of miscarriage, a preterm birth, or another injury. Workers in many industries, like manufacturing, office work, construction, healthcare, daycare, and teaching should be especially cautious.
- Ionizing radiation. This is what most people think of as radiation and is used with X-ray machines, manufacturing processes, production of electrical power, and medicines used to kill cancer. Health care and veterinary workers, industrial workers, laboratory workers, pilots, and flight attendants risk exposure that could cause their babies to suffer birth defects.
- Secondhand smoke. While secondhand smoke can be dangerous to anyone, pregnant women who are around it can increase their risk of having a baby with a low birth weight.
- Work schedule. Working at night can change a woman’s circadian rhythms, which affect her pregnancy hormones. Shift work, which includes working at night and rotating shifts, and long work hours have been linked to miscarriages and preterm births.
How Workers’ Comp Can Help With Your Pregnancy-Related Injuries
If you are pregnant, you have a right to ask your employer to make reasonable accommodations to keep you and your unborn baby safe. Even if you take these precautions, you could still be injured in a workplace accident or develop an illness caused by your work. However, you could be entitled to workers compensation benefits for your lost wage and medical bills. Check out my testimonials and then start an online chat to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can help you fight for the benefits you are entitled to.