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How can physical exertion affect pregnant workers?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2023 | Employment Law For Employees, Employment Law For Employers |

Federal law requires most employers to make reasonable accommodations available to workers throughout their pregnancies. These accommodations allow pregnant employees to perform their job duties without endangering themselves. Restricting physical activities is one of the more common reasonable accommodations employers make.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is generally safe for pregnant women to work, provided they do not overexert themselves. After all, overexertion can be risky for both pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Prolonged standing can be dangerous

While some job duties require workers to stand all through their shifts, many employees can be just as productive when sitting periodically. For pregnant workers, sitting is often a reasonable accommodation, as prolonged standing can be risky in two major ways.

First excessive standing can elevate a pregnant women’s risk both of having a pre-term delivery and of miscarrying. Moreover, because of pregnancy-related hormones that contribute to joint pain, too much standing can be extremely uncomfortable.

Lifting heavy loads can be risky

It also is not uncommon for employers to limit the weight pregnant workers lift. Indeed, according to Dr. Robin Horsager-Boehrer, an OBGYN at UTSouthwestern Medical Center, it is generally wise for pregnant women to avoid lifting more than 20 pounds. This makes sense, as lifting heavy objects during pregnancy can contribute to miscarriages and pre-term births.

Every pregnancy is different, of course. Ultimately, to ensure pregnant workers are following the correct advice, it is advisable for them to talk to the health care providers before requesting reasonable accommodations from their employers.