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Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act No. 75 of 1997)

Codes of Good Practice

Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees during Pregnancy and after the Birth of a Child


Schedule 1 : Physical Hazards



What is the Risk

How to avoid the Risk

Vibration and mechanical shocks

Long-term exposure to vibrations may increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Exposure to shocks or whole body vibrations in the later stages of pregnancy can result in premature labour.

It is advised that pregnant workers and those that have recently given birth avoid work that is likely to involve uncomfortable, whole body vibrations, especially at low frequencies, or where the abdomen is exposed to shocks or jolts.


Extreme heat

The exposure of pregnant and breast-feeding employees to extreme heat may lead to dizziness and faintness, particularly in the case of women performing standing work. Lactation may be impaired by heat dehydration.

Employers should limit the exposure of pregnant and breast-feeding workers to extreme heal. Arrangements for access to rest facilities and refreshments should be made in conditions of extreme heat.


Extreme cold

Work in extremely cold conditions such as cold storage rooms has been associated with problems in pregnancy.

Employees must be supplied with thermal protective clothing and their exposure to cold limited in terms of regulation 2 of the Environmental Regulations for Workplaces, made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).



Prolonged exposure to noise can elevate the blood pressure of pregnant women and lead to tiredness.

Employers should ensure compliance with regulation 7 of the Environmental Regulations for Workplaces, OHSA.


Ionising radiation

Significant exposure to ionising radiation is known to be harmful to the foetus. Working with radioactive liquids or dusts can result in exposure of the foetus (through ingestion or via contamination of the mother's skin) or a breast-fed baby to ionising radiation.

Work procedures should be designed to keep exposure of pregnant women as low as reasonably practicable and below the statutory dose limit for a pregnant woman.

pregnant women or breast-feeding mothers should not work where there is a risk of radioactive contamination.

Employers of registered radiation workers, including radiographers, must comply with the regulations controlling the use of electronic products issued under the Nuclear Energy Act 131 of 1993.


Non-ionising (electromagnetic) radiation

It has not been established that the levels of non-ionising electromagnetic radiation likely to be generated by video display units (VDU's) or other office equipment constitutes a risk to human reproductive health.

Women who are pregnant or who are planning children and are worried about working with VDU's should discuss their concerns with an occupational health practitioner.

The following practical measures can be adopted to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields in offices (emfs):

* Workers should sit at arm's length from the computer (70 cm) and about 120 cm from the backs and sides of co-workers' monitors.
* Workers should have regular breaks from VDU work, as this reduces exposure lime.
Radiation-reducing glare screens (or shields) can reduce the electrical component of the emfs. However, shields that distort the image on the monitor should not be used.


Work in compressed air and diving

People who work in compressed air are at risk of developing the bends. It is not clear whether pregnant women are more at risk of getting the bends but potentially the foetus could be seriously harmed by :as bubbles.

Pregnant workers should not work in compressed air because of potential harm to the foetus from gas bubbles. For those who have recently given birth there is a small increase in the risk of the bends. The Diving Regulations, 1991, under OHSA, must be complied with.