Policy for pregnant women working at laboratories
Staff and students who are pregnant and who have tasks related to laboratories must be certain that the person responsible for the laboratory or the training room has assessed the risk of working there and can advise them on the opportunities for adaptation of the work or workplace at the University. In their risk assessment, the person responsible shall use input from the Occupational Health Service and national expertise from the National Institute of Occupational Health if relevant.
Staff and students who are pregnant and working in laboratories or lecture rooms must be guaranteed a safe working and learning environment with provisions to protect their pregnancy. The working and learning environment must also be perceived as safe. If it is necessary to change the individual's work tasks, the University shall make the necessary adaptations as far as possible.
The units shall ensure that anyone receiving information that an employee or a student is pregnant knows whom to refer them to. Those responsible must be able to use updated lists of chemicals, biological factors and possible radiation sources at that unit. The Occupational Health Service should be a resource for both those responsible for the unit and for the pregnant woman.
The consequences of exposure to chemicals, biological agents or radiation sources can be huge, even if the probability is small. The risk assessment must therefore focus on the consequences. Risk assessment should look at normal operating conditions and the adverse events that may occur. The health service has put more and more emphasis on the precautionary principle and recommends that pregnant women should exercise great care when working with these factors. We refer here both to the University's occupational health service and the national expertise in the National Institute of Occupational Health for updated information.
In addition to assessing the teratogenic chemicals, risk assessment should also cover toxic and harmful chemicals. These will also be toxic and harmful to the foetus if the substance enters the mother's blood.
Information about this policy and how it is implemented in practice, must be clearly stated in the safety manuals and similar documents that everyone should have read before they start work in the laboratory. Such information should be included in course information pages for undergraduates.
- Compiled by: HSE Unit
- Authorized by: Tove Kristin Karlsen for University Director Gunn-Elin Aa. Bjørneboe
- Date of authorization: 26.09.2012
- Version: 1
- Case and document no. in ePhorte: 2012/11454-2