It’s no secret that pregnancy brings a lot of physical and emotional changes. As a result, it’s important to be aware of your health during this time, particularly at work. If you work with display screen equipment (DSE), there are some extra measures you can take to ensure both you and your baby are as safe, healthy, and comfortable as possible.
From needing additional desk space to accommodate your bump to managing swollen ankles, pregnancy can impact the way you work at a desk more than you might think.
Whether you’re in your first trimester or you’re nearing maternity leave, it’s essential that you adjust your workstation to ensure you’re maintaining a good posture and supporting your lower back.
Some common changes that can impact how you work include:
It’s important to remember that managing your health and safety at work during pregnancy is not solely your responsibility. Your employer has to follow specific guidelines to ensure you have everything you need to work comfortably and safely.
For example, you must be allowed time off for antenatal care (including medical appointments and parenting classes) and must be granted maternity leave.
Within the workplace, your employer must also carry out a full risk assessment for pregnant workers and new mothers.
The HSE Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 also stipulate that employers must provide a suitable place for pregnant and breastfeeding workers to rest.
While all workplaces have a legal obligation to carry out risk assessments for pregnant workers, it can be particularly important if you use display screen equipment.
Your employer must first identify any potential hazards or risks associated with using DSE during your pregnancy. This includes assessing the level of physical activity, stress levels, and posture. It’s also vital to check that all of your equipment is up-to-date and meets current safety standards.
A pregnant worker DSE assessment can identify any changes that need to be made to your desk or workstation so you can work as safely as possible. This may include adjusting your desk height, changing your office chair, or setting up a footrest, for example.
Although your employer is responsible for helping you get the workstation set-up you need, there are some actions you can take to keep yourself comfortable and healthy during your pregnancy.
Bear in mind that many of these are points of good practice for any DSE workers, so you can continue to apply them even after you’ve had your baby!
Working with DSE for long periods of time can be tiring, especially during pregnancy. It's important to take regular breaks to rest your eyes and stretch your body. You may need more breaks than usual, so don’t be afraid to take them.
Maintaining a good posture while using DSE can help reduce the risk of developing musculoskeletal problems. Make sure your chair is adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Your desk should be at a comfortable height, and your monitor should be at a distance that allows you to read text without straining your eyes.
Make sure the display screen equipment is comfortable for you to use. This may involve adjusting the height and angle of your monitor or using a footrest or wrist rest.
Staring at a screen for long periods of time can be hard on your eyes. To reduce eye strain, try to blink frequently and take breaks to look at something at a distance.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help keep you hydrated and reduce fatigue. Keep a water bottle on your desk, so you have easy access to it.
If you have a complicated pregnancy or you’re concerned about the impact of working conditions, it may be worth speaking to your midwife or doctor. You can discuss any concerns you have with them, and they might offer advice specific to your job role. Your midwife might, for example, suggest some stretches and exercises that can reduce backache or strain while at your desk.
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also feel overwhelming at times. All workplaces should offer physical and psychological support for pregnant employees. One of the best ways to help an expectant worker is to carry out a DSE assessment.
At Workhappy, we provide a range of DSE assessments to suit different employee needs. Our trained experts can conduct a specific pregnant worker DSE assessment to ensure your team members can work safely and comfortably throughout their pregnancy — whether they’re office-based or remote. To learn more, get in touch with the Workhappy team today.