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Preventing Reproductive Hazards in the Workplace

Learn how to protect yourself from reproductive hazards in the workplace.

Exposure to certain chemicals, radioisotopes, and biological agents may cause problems such as infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects.

It is important for both men and women to understand the risks of reproductive hazards.

Take the following steps to protect yourself from unnecessary exposures:

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Requirement for researchers

UC San Diego researchers working with any chemical that is considered a reproductive hazard must be assigned to the “Reproductive Hazard” hazard control plan (HCP) obtained through the Chemical Hazard Use Application (CHUA).

This HCP must be preapproved by the principal investigator prior to beginning any work with this material.

Declare a pregnancy (optional)

An employee may wish to declare her pregnancy (or intent to become pregnant) so Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) can address possible reproductive hazards in her workplace, and provide information about safe work practices for her physician’s approval.

Declaration of pregnancy is voluntary and all information relating to the pregnancy is strictly confidential.

Contact the EH&S Occupational Health nurse to voluntarily declare a pregnancy (you may choose not to declare a pregnancy):

Radiation workers: Read Declared Pregnancy and Fetal Monitoring for Radiation Workers.

Take safety training

Required: The PI or supervisor must confirm that employees receive safety training about the hazardous materials they use, and that training records are kept.

Make sure everyone working with a known reproductive hazard understands the risks and how to protect themselves:

  • Provide specific Safety Data Sheets and Exposure Control Plans for chemicals and biological agents.
  • Explain possible health effects and routes of exposure:
    • Skin absorption
    • Inhalation
    • Ingestion
    • Injection
  • Provide and train employees in the proper use of personal protective equipment and engineering controls to prevent exposure.
  • Review emergency procedures for your facility.
  • Keep training records on file.

Assess the hazards

  • Your completed Laboratory Hazard Assessment provides a summary report of hazards present in the lab and specifies PPE required for workers. This tool facilitates identification of hazards and identifies the personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used during the specified work activities.
  • Review Safety Data Sheets (formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets) and Exposure Control Plans for hazardous materials in your workplace to find out if they are possible reproductive hazards:

Control the hazards

Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • See personal protective equipment for guidance.
  • Follow these PPE guidelines:
    • Always double-check your PPE before use.
    • Prevent skin exposure at all times.
    • Leave all PPE in the workplace when done.

Follow purchasing and storage guidelines

Prepare for emergencies

Clean up only very small quantities and only if you've been properly trained.

Respond to exposures

Treat any exposure seriously, no matter how slight it may seem at the moment.

  • All exposures:
    • Give first aid treatment, then seek medical immediately as needed.
    • Call Campus Police at (858) 534-4357 (534-HELP) and request an ambulance if transportation is necessary.
    • Call Poison Control, (800) 222-1222 , if additional information is needed.
  • Ingestion: Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Skin exposure: Flush exposed skin with water for at least 15 minutes while removing any contaminated clothing.
  • Eye exposure: Flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. Affected individuals may need help holding their eyes open under water. Seek medical attention immediately at an emergency room.

Read What to Do if a Work-Related Injury, Illness, or Exposure Occurs.

Resources

Contacts

For specific hazard information:

  • Biological agents
  • Chemical hazards
  • Radioisotopes

For medical consultation:

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