Airport Medical Services Limited
35 Massetts Road, Horley (Nr Gatwick), Surrey RH6 7DQ United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1293 775336 Fax: +44 (0)1293 775344 email:

Authorised examiners for: JAA/EASA, UK CAA, US FAA, Transport Canada, CASA Australia,
New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, JCAB, South Africa. Also MCA Seafarer and Oil & Gas UK approved

January 1999


A special duty of care towards pregnant employees is a legal requirement under Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, particularly 92/85.EEC, which was implemented by statutory instrument on the 1st December 1994. This also includes those who are breast-feeding or who have recently given birth.

Examples of risks encountered by cabin crew include vibration, handling of loads, noise, ionising and non-ionising radiation, physical and mental fatigue and night work. Apart from the pushing and pulling of trolleys, lifting and bending, their crucial safety role may be very physically demanding, especially in an emergency.

Pregnant workers are especially at risk from manual handling injury when hormonal changes can effect ligaments and postural problems increase as the pregnancy progress. Prolonged exposure to noise increases fatigue, as does standing and other physical work and this has long been associated with risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.

Cabin staff feel obliged to assist their pregnant colleagues, putting themselves under extra strain. Production of a doctor's or a midwife's certificate stating that they should not work at night time on health grounds can also restrict their usefulness.

The latest International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP60) recommendation is that pregnant females should not exceed a dose of 1mSv following declaration of pregnancy. Maximum exposure to them could be 0.8 mSv per month though it is much less in short-haul flights. However, on these grounds alone it is safest to stop cabin staff flying when the pregnancy is declared, as is the policy with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Employers are therefore obliged to adjust working conditions to avoid these risks, offer suitable alternative work, or suspend on paid leave, just as for any other worker. "New and Expectant Mothers At Work - A Guide for Employers" published by the Health and Safety Executive(cost 6.25, I believe) refers.

Dr S A Goodwin

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Airport Medical Services Limited
35 Massetts Road, Horley (Nr Gatwick), Surrey RH6 7DQ United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1293 775336 Fax: +44 (0)1293 775344 email:
Vat Reg - 906 8991 78

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