28TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 8-11 May 1989
WP No. 98
VRT/VDU Work When Pregnant
The rapid technical development has now lead to a working environment for controllers that consists of several radar- and data screens. In the future, the controllers will most probably be facing even more screens. As the screens become more and more common, the concern about the health hazards that is connected with work behind those screens, are growing bigger. The number of female controllers has been growing, and as equal opportunity legislation is becoming more used, the number of women within the Air Traffic Control profession will continue to increase. The concerns about working in a multi-screen environment will of course be stressed during pregnancy.
There are no studies undertaken and known by the Swedish Association, that proves that there is a connection between CRT/VDU radiation and miscarriage or damage to the foetus. On the other hand, the research work done is not able to present any conclusive evidence that the radiation is harmless to the foetus, even if it is below established minima. This has created a feeling of uncertainty.
The above described uncertainty combined with the “ordinary” concerns about health risks from CRT/VDU-radiation, might cause a feeling of anxiety among pregnant controllers. Apart from the damages that radiation may cause, this anxiety can alone lead to a miscarriage. It should also be considered that anxiety, under special circumstances, may lead to increased alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking and use of medicine or drugs, which in its turn can lead to a greater risk for miscarriage. A pregnant controller which is seriously worried about her pregnancy, will most probably perform her control duties with less quality then normal.
As long as there are unknown elements, both physical and mental, in our working environment, that may have an effect on a pregnancy, it is our responsibility to react. A reaction from IFATCA on this subject will be one important step towards the creation of a safe working environment for Air Traffic Controllers. It is also a question where we cannot afford to pay the price of being wrong.
It is recommended to Conference that the following be accepted as IFATCA policy:
A pregnant Air Traffic Controller shall not, if she so chooses, work in front of CRT/VDU screens during her pregnancy.
Last Update: September 20, 2020