With women making up approximately half of the U.S. workforce, odds are that many of them will work during one or more pregnancies. The majority will experience a healthy pregnancy which will cause little to no disruption to their time at work. That is not to say, however, that it is not vital for women to be mindful of how their working conditions might affect their and their babies health. It’s important to note that to date, though pregnancy discrimination is illegal, pregnancy is not considered a “protected” condition in most states. In other words, often employers are not legally obligated to make accommodations to help their pregnant employees complete their regular job duties, such as lighter work duty, etc. No woman, however, wants to risk themselves or their child’s health. It’s important to be pro-active in reducing those risks that may be present in the workplace.
Pregnant women must be more mindful of the amount and type of physical activity they perform, such as lifting, pushing or pulling heavy items. Limitations will vary, depending on each woman’s condition, and should be determined by your physician. If your employer is unwilling to accommodate your restrictions or limitations, you and your physician must make the personal choice of what your next step will be. Another issue involves the potential inability to differentiate between the common back and body aches of pregnancy, and what may actually be a workplace injury. See a doctor immediately to make certain that what you are feeling is normal. Otherwise, you may risk further injury. If you believe your injury is work-relate, remember: a pregnant worker is still a worker, and due the same workers’ compensation benefits coverage for on-the-job injuries. Contact an Illinois workers compensation lawyerimmediately to determine your benefits eligibility.
Slips and Falls
For everyone, slips and falls are a leading cause of accidents both in the workplace and in the home. But for a pregnant worker this risk can increase. A fall risks the health not just of the worker, but of her unborn child. Typical injuries for falls include sprains, cuts, bruises, broken bones, head trauma and even death. For a pregnant woman, a fall can also lead to miscarriage, preterm labor, or physical or cognitive trauma to the baby. While a worker’s injuries from this would typically fall under the purview of workers’ compensation law, injuries sustained by her child has repeatedly been found to be another matter entirely. In Washington, a pregnant worker’s family sued her employer after slippery floors caused her to fall, ramming her stomach against a table. In addition to her own injuries, she went into labor that day, delivering a daughter with mental and physical disabilities. While coverage of the mother’s injuries was restricted to those allowed by workers’ compensation, the courts sided with the plaintiff that the child’s injuries were separate and distinct from her mother’s. And as the child was considered an injured third-party, the family was not restricted from filing a separate negligence law suit.
What may constitute little health hazard for a typical adult may actually have serious consequences for a developing fetus. Items from industrial chemicals, byproducts of production, biological matter, and even cleaning agents can be toxic to an unborn child. In recent years, for instance, several technology workers have filed suits against companies like IBM and Motorola for birth defects they alleged were caused by pregnant workers’ exposure to chemicals while working in these companies “clean rooms”. Never assume you can continue to work with the same products or in the same environment as before pregnancy. Always consult a doctor to determine their safety. If you personally have already been injured by such exposure, seek treatment immediately for both yourself and your child.
About the Author: Brooke Haley is a Marketing Associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts in the State of Illinois. For more information about Illinois workers compensation lawyer,please visit www.millonpeskin.com.