Clinical guidelines for occupational lifting in pregnancy: evidence summary and provisional recommendations

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Abstract

Empirically based lifting criteria established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to reduce the risk of overexertion injuries in the general US working population were evaluated for application to pregnant workers. This report proposes criteria to guide decisions by medical providers about permissible weights for lifting tasks performed at work over the course of an uncomplicated pregnancy. Our evaluation included an extensive review of the literature linking occupational lifting to maternal and fetal health. Although it has been 29 years since the American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs published its report on the Effects of Pregnancy on Work Performance, these guidelines continue to influence clinical decisions and workplace policies. Provisional clinical guidelines derived from the NIOSH lifting criteria that account for recent evidence for maternal and fetal health are presented and aim to improve the standard of care for pregnant workers.

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