Breastfeeding at risk

On the importance of breastfeeding

There are several scientific studies that agree that breastfeeding is the natural feeding mode in early childhood and that breast milk provides all the nutrients that the infant needs in the first six months of life.

Current legislation on parental work

The legislation for the protection of parental work is currently regulated in Legislative Decree no. 26 of 03.2001.151; Consolidated text
of the legislative provisions on the protection and support of maternity and paternity, pursuant to
Article 15 of the law of 8 March 2000;

Legislation and risks related to breastfeeding in the workplace

The legislation requires the employer to assess the risks related to breastfeeding and to identify safe workplaces where the woman can breastfeed. The risk assessment shall include the identification of the activities to which the worker cannot be engaged and, with regard to compatible activities, the identification of possible risk factors for breastfeeding for which additional protective measures must be taken.

The company must also evaluate the shift of the worker to tasks compatible with breastfeeding (Legislative Decree 81/2008 and subsequent amendments; Legislative Decree 230
/1995 and subsequent amendments). Otherwise, in the impossibility of employing the worker within the company in activities not at risk, the manager in charge reports it to the Territorial Labor Inspectorate which can order the interdiction from work (abstention for
work at risk).

Risk factors during breastfeeding

Below, we illustrate, in a schematic way, the risk factors for the nursing mother (for specific information on the risks in your work
environment we recommend contacting the competent doctor of your company):

  1. Ionizing radiation (Cat. A and B). If activities with risk of contamination, access to controlled and supervised areas is prohibited. The woman may not be engaged in activities involving possible exposure of more than 1 millisievert/year.
  2. Industrial noise.
    Prohibition of average daily exposure above Lep, d > 90dBA.
  3. Vibrations transmitted to the upper limbs or to the
    whole body, and work on board means of communication in motion
    (planes, trains, ships, etc.)
  4. Thermal stress
    (work in too hot or too cold environment)
  5. Care and care work in departments of infectious,
    nervous or mental diseases (including institutions for the
    mentally handicapped)
  6. Breeding and care for livestock.
  7. Exposure to chemical agents (thinners, paints, solvents, disinfectants, etc.), fumes,
    gases, dusts, silica, asbestos
  8. Exposure to mercury and derivatives
  9. Exposure to lead and derivatives
  10. Pesticide exposure
  11. Exposure to substances with risk phrases: R 64
  12. Sensitising substances, substances with risk phrases: R 39, R 42, R 43,
    R 48
  13. Substances or preparations classified:(Xn) harmful, (T) toxic, (T+) very toxic, (C) corrosive, (E) explosive,
    (F+) extremely flammable
  14. Manual handling of loads
  15. Prolonged forced postures
  16. Station erected over 50% of the timetable
  17. Work on board means of communication by motorbike (trains, coaches, ships)
  18. Heavy labour
  19. Night work (from 24 to 6)
  20. Strenuous, dangerous and unhealthy jobs (substances, processes and / or works, tasks listed in
    annexes A and B of Legislative Decree 151/01)
  21. Work on fixed or movable ladders or scaffolding

The sectors of work most at risk

The sectors of work that can represent risk factors for breastfeeding workers are:

  • the industrial sector;
  • the health sector;
  • the catering and food trade sector;
  • the agricultural sector;
  • the beauty and hairdressing sector;
  • the hotel and domestic sector;
  • the school sector.

The submission of the application for breastfeeding at risk:

Within 30 days of delivery, the new mother must present the baby’s birth certificate to her employer.

After that, the woman is entitled to three months of maternity leave. During this period, the employer will have to assess whether there are risks to breastfeeding and, if so,

  • You will have to assign the new mother a different and non-risky task until the seventh month of the baby’s life.
  • If it is not possible to assign a different task to the new mother, she is entitled to abstain from work until the seventh month.

In case of abstention from work, the worker must submit a written communication to the competent Territorial Labour Inspectorate which will provide for the disqualification from work.

The salary, as mandatory abstention, is 100%, anticipated by the employer who will be reimbursed by INPS.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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