Occupational Reproductive Health Resources

 

For consultation on non-acute environmental or occupational exposure concerns in children, pregnant women, or adults with reproductive health concerns:  

Call us at 1-877-KID-CHEM  or 1-877-543-2436 or contact us at pehsu@uw.edu

Calls are answered by UW MedCon and forwarded to NW PEHSU. A Northwest PEHSU team member will respond usually within 1 to 4 business days, depending on the number and nature of calls received.

For immediate assistance with concerns about suspected exposure or acute poisoning, contact the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

 

Resources

Please Don’t Fire My Patient: How to Support Your Pregnant Patients’ Ability to Earn an Income and Stay Healthy on the Job (webinar from Center for WorkLife Law, University of California Hastings College of Law)

Pregnant @ Work (Center for WorkLife Law, University of California Hastings College of Law)

 

 
Resources Under Development

Occupational Reproductive Health Toolkit for employers

Training for Clinicians

Training for Healthcare Workers

 

 

 

Occupational Reproductive Health Project Summary

To improve the reproductive health of Washington workers we will: 1) develop tools to identify and

mitigate workplace reproductive hazards for temp staffing agencies and other employers; 2) provide one-on-

one telephonic medical consultation services for concerned Washington workers and/or their clinicians,

employers, safety professionals, and other health professionals on specific workplace reproductive

hazards; and 3) increase capacity of primary care and other health professionals on occupational

reproductive health.

 

Occupational Reproductive Health Project Description

Male and female workers interested in family formation often receive insufficient or no training on

the chemical, biological, and physical agents in the workplace that are linked to infertility, miscarriage,

birth defects and other adverse developmental outcomes. Since some women do not realize they are

pregnant for months, they may continue to work with reproductive hazards without

safeguards. Authoritative information and best practice resources for employers on occupational

reproductive hazards are scarce. Employers and workplace safety and health professionals

under-appreciate the importance of including occupational reproductive health in hazard communication

and accident prevention programs, as well as during on-boarding training. The inadequacy of current

knowledge and assessment of reproductive health is especially problematic for sectors that have shifted

to a temporary staffing workforce, especially when the temporary work is hazardous.

 

Temporary and other workers may be reluctant to raise their reproductive health concerns with their

employers or their on-site supervisors, which is especially challenging for temporary workers who may be

unexpectedly moved to different work at a job site. Temporary and other workers may turn to the

obstetricians or primary care providers for advice, but these clinicians receive little to no training in

occupational reproductive health in medical school. Occupational medicine and health and

safety professionals have limited access to occupational reproductive health training.

 

Reproductive hazards are defined as agents that interfere with a couple’s ability to have healthy

children, recognizing that some adverse reproductive health outcomes are delayed until childhood or

adulthood. Exposure to chemical (lead, pesticides, antineoplastic drugs), physical (ionizing radiation,

handling heavy items, noise), and infectious agents are associated with impaired reproductive

health. Stained-glass window artists, farmers, health care professionals, warehouse workers,

veterinarians and other occupationally exposed employees are at risk. Currently available hazard

recognition and best practice tools, workplace policies, other resources and training on occupational

reproductive health are limited. The significant increase in the use of temporary staffing agencies requires

new approaches and multidisciplinary teams to address these issues.

 

  • Employers lack knowledge of workplace reproductive hazards and do not have the tools or

best practice guidelines to safeguard the reproductive health of their employees. Safety data

sheets are difficult to interpret and employers lack self-confidence when addressing reproductive

health issues. A main tool for Washington employers, workers, clinicians and health and safety

professionals is outdated. There are limited tools and guidance documents for employers to conduct a

risk evaluation to identify and assess reproductive workplace hazards, and to determine strategies to

mitigate impact on employees.

 

 

  • Workers exposed to reproductive hazards lack access to reproductive health experts.

Reproductive hazards are rarely covered in worksite hazard communication and accident prevention

programs, and concerned temporary or other workers may be reluctant to raise this topic with their

employers. Pregnant or lactating workers, or workers contemplating family formation, may turn to

primary care providers for assistance, but since workplace reproductive hazards are rarely included in

medical education and training, these professionals are ill-equipped to address these concerns.

 

Occupational medicine physicians and nurses receive limited formal reproductive health training, and

may not have the multidisciplinary team often needed to assess workers’ exposures to occupational

reproductive and developmental hazards.

 

  • Obstetricians and primary care providers, occupational medicine physicians and nurses, and

safety and health specialists lack occupational reproductive health knowledge and access to

reproductive health experts when addressing specific occupational reproductive health

concerns. Primary care providers receive limited to no training in occupational and environmental

reproductive health and lack tools for communicating reproductive health risks to patients.

 

  • Primary care providers, obstetricians, occupational medicine physicians and nurses, safety

and health specialists, and employers lack access to training on occupational reproductive

health.

 

Advisory Committees

 

SHIP External Advisors

Michael Foley, Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Harry Franzheim, New Era HR Solutions, ASA compensation committee 

Sybill Hyppolite, Legislative Director Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Susan Kline, PhD, Retired UW Medicine Neighborhood Clinic Manager

Kari Misterek, HR Manager Labor Works, ASA compensation committee

Carissa Rocheleau PhD, Research Epidemiologist, NIOSH

John Swartos, Safety Manager Aerotek, ASA compensation committee

 

Medical Advisory Committee Members

Susan Buchanan, MD, MPH, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health

Laura Sienas, MD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Obstetrics, University of Washington, Seattle

Blair Wylie, MD MPH Director, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston

 

*Because email is not secure, please be aware of associated risks of email transmission. If you are communicating with a UW Medicine Provider or Researcher via email, your acceptance of the risk and agreement to the conditions for email communications is implied. (See http://www.uwmedicine.org/Global/Compliance/EmailRisk.htm)

 

This Work and Reproductive Health project is funded by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) grant program.