SEL Group Ltd have chosen to provide an online EHS consultancy and training service only during this COVID-19 period to reduce the risk of transmission of infection, however as part of our commitment to compliance we have provided the following summary of requirements to assist businesses that are NOT involved in any healthcare or social care activity. This guidance is based on the UK Royal College of Gynaecology guidance.
On 27th April 2020, the RCOG published COVID-19 virus infection and pregnancy
Occupational health advice for employers and pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic Version 3.1.
The guidance refers to persons working in health care although the principles can be adapted to any workplace.
1 Transmission to unborn child
The guidance was updated – “Assessment of the risk of vertical transmission has been changed to ‘probable’, in line with a single case report published 26.3.20 that showed the first convincing evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted to the baby during pregnancy”
2 Risk to pregnant women
“It is known from other respiratory infections (e.g. influenza, SARS)1,2 that pregnant woman who contract significant respiratory infections in the third trimester (after 28 weeks) are more likely to become seriously unwell. This may also lead to preterm birth of their baby, intended to enable the woman to recover through improving the efficiency of her breathing or ventilation. Given these additional considerations for pregnant women who become seriously unwell in the later stages of pregnancy, the Government has taken the precautionary approach to include pregnant women in a vulnerable group. This is so that pregnant women are aware of the current lack of available evidence relating to this virus in pregnancy; and particularly, to encourage awareness that pregnant women in later stages of pregnancy could potentially become more seriously unwell.”
3 Risk Assessment Healthcare workers
“Every pregnant worker should have a risk assessment with their manager, which may involve occupational health. Employers should modify the working environment to limit contact with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients to minimise the risk of infection as far as possible. In the light of the limited evidence, pregnant women can only continue to work in direct patient-facing roles if they are under 28 weeks’ gestation and if this follows a risk assessment that recommends they can continue working, subject to modification of the working environment and deployment to suitable alternative duties.
Pregnant women of any gestation should not be required to continue working if this is not supported by the risk assessment, as per the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW). If a risk assessment indicates that a pregnant woman under 28 weeks’ gestation can continue to work in a patient facing role, and the woman chooses to do so, she should be supported by her employer.
4 Pregnant women with health conditions
For pregnant women from 28 weeks’ gestation, or with underlying health conditions such as heart or lung disease at any gestation, a more precautionary approach is advised. Women in this category should be recommended to stay at home. For many healthcare workers, this may present opportunities to work flexibly from home in a different capacity, for example by undertaking telephone or videoconference consultations, or taking on administrative duties.
It is advisable for the employer to be able to demonstrate that:
- A COVID-19 pregnant worker risk assessment has been conducted for a pregnant worker. The pregnant worker should have been involved in the assessment and agree with the control arrangements.
- Staff have been reminded of the requirement to notify their pregnancy at the earliest opportunity.
- Pregnant workers with underlying health conditions should be advised to stay at home.
- Pregnant workers should not work in areas where COVID 19 infection is present from 28 weeks of gestation.
Wishing you all a safe and healthy COVID-19 confinement and looking forward to us all being able to enjoy our freedoms again soon.
The SEL Group Team