Even though the old-fashioned term for pregnancy described it as a “delicate condition,” most women would disagree with that statement. While they might worry more about their unborn child’s health, most women remain capable and fit to work throughout their pregnancy.
However, a new study indicates that pregnant workers might face a higher risk of suffering an injury at work in many cases.
Study: Not pregnancy, but stress increases risk of work injury
Many studies over the years have found that stress distracts workers, and therefore can increase their risk of an injury. For pregnant workers, that stress seems to revolve around the pregnancy itself.
Pregnancy does not inherently increase the risk of a work injury. Even so, two out of three pregnant workers fear they will face bias, stereotyping and discrimination because of their pregnancy, such as being seen as weak or incapable. Therefore, these workers tend to overcompensate. They will work harder and even overexert themselves. This puts them at risk of an injury.
In fact, the study found that workplaces with a higher stereotyping risk led to three times as many work-related accidents.
Pregnant workers must stay safe on the job
The fear of unfair treatment in the workplace is very real – and so is the stress it can cause.
However, staying safe at work is of the utmost importance for both the worker’s health as well as the health of their unborn child. Pregnant workers might remain fully capable of completing their work duties, but they must ensure they take their safety seriously.
Pregnant workers in Maryland should take extra care to:
- Utilize ergonomic equipment
- Be careful lifting heavy loads
- Wear the proper shoes to maintain posture
- Avoid exposure to dangerous materials
- Operate heavy machinery safely
- Take regular breaks to rest
If workers overexert themselves to avoid stereotyping, it only serves to put them at more risk in the workplace. Pregnant workers are protected under Federal Law not to be discriminated against based on their sex and the fact that they are pregnant. Pregnant women should work as normal, and be open and candid with their supervisors regarding their pregnancy and how, if at all, the pregnancy affects their ability to perform their job. Should a woman who is pregnant feel that they are being treated differently due to their pregnancy, they should contact an attorney to discuss their rights. Furthermore, should a woman experience an injury on the job, even if they think the change in their body contributed to the accident, they remain likely covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act of Maryland and should seek counsel to ensure they treated fairly and protected.