Biological Agents and Reproductive Health
Occupational exposure to certain biological agents may be harmful to workers’ reproductive health, to pregnancy or to the foetus.
Under the general assessment requirements of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Biological Agent) Regulations 2013, the employer must assess any risk to an employee’s health or safety from the presence of biological agents. This includes any adverse reproductive effects on men and especially on women of child bearing age who are part of the workforce.
Women and men should be informed beforehand, for example during the pre-employment medical examination, of any potentially harmful occupational exposures and protective measures to prevent any adverse reproductive effects.
Protection of Pregnant, Post-Natal and Breastfeeding Employees
Once an employer is informed that a worker is pregnant or breast feeding the employer must then carry out a specific assessment of risks to that employee under Chapter 2 of Part 6 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 to 2016.
For information on biological agents that can have reproductive effects, see Chapter 5.1 of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work's State of the Art Report on Reproductive Toxicants.