Most of the physical and biological agents in the workplace that may affect fertility and pregnancy outcomes are practically unstudied.
According to the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) there are more than 1,000 workplace chemicals have shown reproductive effects in animals, most have not been studied in humans. In addition, most of the 4 million other chemical mixtures in commercial use remain untested.
The inadequacy of current knowledge coupled with the ever-growing variety of workplace exposures pose a potentially serious public health problem.
Source of information
It is very important to identify and recognize hazards that my affects the health of pregnant workers; Answering the following questions is critical to understand the effects of workplace hazards on pregnant women’s health:
• What are reproductive hazards?
Reproductive hazards are substances or agents that may affect the reproductive health of women or men or the ability of couples to have healthy children. Hazards may be chemical, physical or biological. Examples of reproductive hazards are lead (chemical), radiation (physical) and certain viruses (biological).
• What are the routes of exposure?
Workers may be exposed to reproductive hazards by breathing them in (inhalation), by contact with skin (dermal) and by swallowing them (ingestion).
• What are the potential health effects of exposure?
Potential health effects include infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and developmental disorders in children.
• Can a worker expose his/her family to these hazards?
Yes, a worker can expose his/her family to these hazards by bringing them home from the workplace, for example, on his/her skin, hair, clothes, shoes, tools or car. It is important to prevent these exposures by the use of workplace engineering controls, proper work practices and good hygiene.
OSHA Technical Manual (OTM)
The OTM provides technical information and guidance on occupational safety and health topics. The content is based on currently available research publications, it provides information and answers to many questions regarding reproductive and women’s health at work.