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 email@example.com
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 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
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
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.