Employers should be more alert to the health and safety needs of pregnant employees following reports that the number of births in the UK is now at its highest since 1991, according to evacuation experts at Evac+Chair International.

Recently published figures from the National Office of Statistics revealed that the UK population increased more last year than at any other time in more than half a century. The number of births during the year to mid-2010 is now at 797,000 – the highest number since 1991.

According to experts at Evac+Chair International, employers – many of whom will be employing a pregnant member of staff, should take a different approach to mainitaining the health and safety of preganant employees.

Mark Wallace, Managing Director at Evac+Chair International, comments:
“It is a legal requirement that employers carry out a risk assessment when they find out an employee is pregnant and this includes assessing the employee’s personal evacuation plan.

“The majority of employers consider the measures for a safe evacuation of employees with walking difficulties, but they often ignore the risks to pregnant employees, particularly in the third trimester. Stress and fatigue are major considerations during an event such as an emergency building evacuation.”

Employers are responsible under regulation 16 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Act to carry out a full risk assessment for expectant mothers.

Mark Wallace adds: “Employers should take action to ensure that pregnant workers are not exposed to any significant risks and should consider developing a personal evacuation plan for a pregnant employee. Any risks discovered in the assessment should be quickly mitigated, including ensuring that appropriate equipment, such as an evacuation chair, is available. It may be necessary to train staff to ensure that they can assist and help make a swift evacuation. The risks should also be carefully reviewed throughout the duration of the worker’s pregnancy.”