Tools for Employers and Workers
Occupational Reproductive Health Courses
Work and Reproductive Health: Awareness and Prevention (CME available), presented by Debra Cherry, MD, MS
Work and Reproductive Health in the Healthcare Industry (CME available), presented by Debra Cherry, MD, MS
Work and Reproductive Health: What Employers Need to Know, presented by Nancy Beaudet, MS, CIH
Work and Reproductive Health: Awareness and Prevention, presented by Debra Cherry, MD, MS
Work and Reproductive Health in the Healthcare Industry, presented by Debra Cherry, MD, MS
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Accommodation and Resources
Washington Healthy Starts Act (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 833-660-4877, toll free)
Under the WA Healthy Stats Act of 2017, employers are required to provide accommodations to pregnant workers upon request, such as more frequent short breaks to drink water, eat snacks, and use the restroom. Clinicians may also request other accommodations on behalf of pregnant workers, such as job restructuring or reassignment, changing equipment, or temporary transfer to a less active or less dangerous position. See the WA State Office of the Attorney General webpage for more information.
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)
Work and Reproductive Health University of Washington SHIP Grant Team
Nancy Beaudet MS, CIH, NW PEHSU Co-Director
Debra Cherry, MD, MS, Associate Professor, Director, UW Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program, UW Medicine
Kate Durand, MHS, CIH, CSPCE, Outreach Manager, Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety
Elaine Faustman, PhD, Professor, DEOHS
Joyce Matson, Consultant/Owner, Peoplesafe
Sheela Sathyanarayana, MD, MPH, Professor, UW Department of Pediatrics/Seattle Children’s Research Institute; Attending Pediatrician, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit; Medical Director, University of Washington Newborn Nursery
Nancy Simcox, MS Assistant Teaching Professor and Director, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) Continuing Education Programs
Sarah Wolz, MS, Continuing Education Specialist, DEOHS, Continuing Education Programs, University of Washington
Work and Reproductive Health SHIP Grant External Partner
American Staffing Association of Washington
Work and Reproductive Health Project Summary
To improve the reproductive health of Washington workers a multidisciplinary team (members listed above): 1) developed resources to identify and control workplace reproductive health hazards for temporary staffing agencies and other employers; 2) increased knowledge of primary care and other health professionals on occupational reproductive health; 3) educated employers, health and safety professionals, workers and others on occupational reproductive health; and, 4) provided one-on-one telephonic medical consultation to concerned Washington workers and clinicians on workplace reproductive health.
Work and Reproductive Health Project Background
Reproductive health hazards are agents that interfere with a worker’s ability to have healthy children, and includes infertility, miscarriage, premature birth, and alterations in offspring such as birth defects, cognitive changes and pediatric cancer. Male and female workers interested in family formation often receive insufficient or no training on the chemicals, infectious organisms, physical agents and physically demanding activities in the workplace that are associated with adverse reproductive health outcomes. Employers and workplace safety and health professionals underappreciate the importance of including occupational reproductive health in hazard communication and accident prevention programs, and on-boarding training. Since some workers do not realize they are pregnant for months, they may continue to work with reproductive health hazards without safeguards.
Workplace hazards linked to impaired reproductive health include chemicals (i.e., lead, pesticides, antineoplastic drugs), physical agents (i.e., ionizing radiation, noise), infectious organisms (i.e., SARS-CoV-2) and demanding physical activities (i.e., heavy lifting, excessive standing, shift work). Stained-glass window artists, farmers, health care professionals, warehouse workers, cashiers, veterinarians, home health aides and other occupationally-exposed employees are at risk.
Authoritative information and best practice resources for employers, safety professionals and others on occupational reproductive hazards are scarce. There are limited guidance materials available to conduct a risk evaluation to identify reproductive workplace hazards. In addition, there is limited awareness of the Washington Health Starts Act, which requires accommodation for pregnant and breastfeeding workers. The inadequacy of current reproductive health knowledge is especially problematic for sectors that have shifted to a temporary staffing workforce, especially when the temporary work is hazardous.
Infertile, pregnant and/or lactating workers may turn to the obstetricians, primary care providers, or nurses for advice, but these health professionals receive little to no formal training in occupational reproductive health. Consequently, these professionals are ill-equipped to address these concerns. Also, clinicians may not have the multidisciplinary team often needed to assess workers’ exposures to occupational reproductive health hazards. Workers and health care professionals lack access to reproductive health experts experienced with workplace reproductive health hazards.
Funding and support for this project was provided by the State of Washington, Department of Labor & Industries, Safety & Health Investment Projects (SHIP).
SHIP External Advisors
Michael Foley, Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Sybill Hyppolite, Legislative Director, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Kari Misterek, Safety and Human Resources Manager, LaborWorks, ASA Safety Committee
Carissa Rocheleau, PhD, Epidemiologist, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
John Swartos, Regional Safety Manager, Aerotek, ASA Safety 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