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Health, Safety and Pregnancy
#1
Howzabout all-over body condoms?
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#2
I know of a recent project in Yorkshire where, because of potential contamination risks (directly related to the industrial archaeology under investigation), no women of childbearing age were allowed to work on the site. I was not directly involved, but I assume that this arose from a risk assessment.

If you look at the 'muppet on forehead' thread on the BAJR Baiting forum, you will see my recent post on contamination. I do assess these issues where relevant, but not (so far) specifically in relation to pregnant women.

1man1desk

to let, fully furnished
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#3
don't want to underestimate the risks that could be posed to "women of childbearing age" on some contaminated sites, but it could lead to people not wanting to employ such people at all, just in case they may be pregnant, thereby negating the need to do assessments on such health risks...

++ i spend my days rummaging around in dead people ++
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#4

I hadn't come across this provision before this morning and wonder if the law is actually stating that [u]every</u> work site where women might be employed (which to mind means all of them) shouldn't be carrying out such a risk assessment. I cant see any obvious reason why archaeological sites or premises should be excluded.

To allay Sniper's fears, I don't think it is a problem and can't see that any 'safe' working practice would exclude anyone (male or female). I just wonder if it is something that most archaeologists are unaware of. 1man1desks reply suggests that it isn't something he has come across before (and he tends to know most of these sort of things).

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#5
Quote:quote:because of potential contamination risks (directly related to the industrial archaeology under investigation), no women of childbearing age were allowed to work on the site.
posted by 1man1desk

What?!! Surely that would contravene employment equality laws, unless a woman was actually pregnant and her and her baby actually at risk by working at the site. I was under the impression that employment cannot be denied on the basis that someone has a womb and might use it one day (either accidentally or on purpose). Exposure to hazardous materials can affect sperm count so does that mean men who might want kids someday should also be turned away??

I would be extremely annoyed if I was turned down for a job on that basis of having a womb. As far as I know it is in perfect working order, but I have chosen not to use it.
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#6
I don't know the details, as I was not involved in the project - I just heard about it from the excavator at a conference. However, my understanding is that the contaminants were such that, if they got into a woman, they would stay there permanently and would cause serious deformities/death to any baby she might have in future.

So, by working on the site, a woman of childbearing age would not only put any baby she was already carrying at risk, but any baby she might have at a future date.

I don't know the employment law position about discriminating against a woman on those grounds, but to be honest if it was me I would be unhappy about giving a young woman a job that I knew might prevent her from ever being able to have children.

1man1desk

to let, fully furnished
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#7
Quote:quote:Originally posted by 1man1desk

I don't know the details, as I was not involved in the project - I just heard about it from the excavator at a conference. However, my understanding is that the contaminants were such that, if they got into a woman, they would stay there permanently and would cause serious deformities/death to any baby she might have in future.

This may be the case if certain transplacental contaminants were on site, particularly mercury or methyl mercury. Whilst dangerous to both men and women, there is an additional risk if the contaminant is passed through the placenta and perhaps the additional risk resulted in the non-female site ruling.

In the instance that 1man1desk describes the potential risk was obviously detected at assessment stage. One would hope that other risks (to both male and female archaeologists) are also being picked up at this early stage. One would imagine that a reverse of this action would be implemented if a contaminant were additionally dangerous to men.

Although bearing that thought in mind, perhaps holding ones breath isn't a good idea....

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#8
I take the point entirely about potential risk to future fertility and unborn children but as I said in my last post, anything that can affect a woman's body in such as serious way surely could be expected to have some effect on a man's body - ie. reducing sperm count, total infertility, impotence, increased risk of male cancers, etc. Do we really have enough scientific evidence to say that a site is safe for a man to work on but not a woman? I say this bearing in mind that it is generally accepted that women tend to be more body aware than men, visit the doctors more frequently for checkups/family planning etc. It may well be that that has not been sufficient research or documentation of male reactions to contaminants to say there is or isn't a risk.

For me though it comes down to this. I have the potential to have children but I have been married for 18+ years and made a decision not to have children long ago. Why should I be denied employment?
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#9
Quote:quote:Originally posted by ReggieDo we really have enough scientific evidence to say that a site is safe for a man to work on but not a woman? I say this bearing in mind that it is generally accepted that women tend to be more body aware than men, visit the doctors more frequently for checkups/family planning etc. It may well be that that has not been sufficient research or documentation of male reactions to contaminants to say there is or isn't a risk.

Well made points, Reggie.

It does seem on re-reading the regulation that men would probably find it more difficult to appreciate all of the elements inherent in this risk assessment. I guess that one hopes a male archaeologist carrying out an assessment of this nature would consult with the women concerned.........!!

Again bearing that thought in mind, perhaps holding ones breath isn't a good idea....Smile
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#10
One of my staff s currently on maternity leave. As soon as she announced her pregnancy last year we had to produce a risk-assessment. In effect she did the risk assessment and then I went through it with her. This then went to our HR department and on her personnel file.

This seemed fine and fair enough to me, and indeed perfectly reasonable. The main areas where her role was limited was in manual handling and heavy work and particular areas of standing building recording. This was progressive and we looked at different effects on her work at different stages of pregnancy.

Other people posting on this thread seem to think that the main areas of concern would be risks brought on by contaminants etc. However these are risks to all workers and not confined to women, so no worker should be exposed to them anyway.

What actually [u]is</u> bizarre is some months ago at a health and safety training session I was told that I should produce a pregnant workers' risk assessment for [u]every woman</u> on my staff regardless of whether they were pregnant or not 'just in case'. Because technically if they were pregnant and something happened for which a risk assessment had not been done and they decided to sue... (even if they had not informed me that they were pregnant!!!)

I thought that was bizarre.

But a Pregnant Workers Risk Assessment is in my view entirely reasonable.
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