A child born with birth defect, a miscarriage, difficulty conceiving, impotence
are personal tragedies lived in private by couples and families. Tragedies that
may be assumed to have individual or even family or genetic causes. It is not
often that the working conditions of victims of reproductive health disorders
are looked at.
And yet, workplaces are a window of exposure to a long catalogue of
reprotoxins, including chemicals like heavy metals, pesticides, solvents,
endocrine disruptors, etc., physical (excessive heat, ionizing radiation,
etc.), psychological (stress) and ergonomic factors (heavy loads, night- or
shift work, etc.).
Recent research shows how far occupational exposure to chemicals affects not
only the different aspects of men and women workers' reproductive life, but
also their children's health.
The Pregnant Workers Directive: Not very protective
The Pregnant Workers Directive was adopted in 1992. The maternity protection
aspect is pretty feeble. The preventive measures that employers have to take
are very vague. They offer no protection for the unborn child in the first
weeks of pregnancy, and encourage employers to transfer pregnant workers away
from the job instead of eliminating the risk and providing prevention at
source. Also, unlike the other health and safety at work directives, the
Pregnant Workers Directive does not require workers' reps to be consulted on
preventive measures. Revision of the Directive is in hand. Unfortunately, the
Commission is refusing to touch the measures on the organization of prevention.
AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work