Developing fetuses and newborn infants may be more susceptible to harm from certain hazardous drugs (HDs). Therefore, an additional level of protection is suggested for those most vulnerable to the reproductive and developmental effects of HDs (Connor et al., 2014). For this reason, employers must allow employees who are actively trying to conceive or who are pregnant or breastfeeding to refrain from activities that may expose them and their infant to reproductive health hazards such as chemical, physical, or biologic agents (OSHA, 2016).
ONS states that employers allow employees who pregnant, breastfeeding, or actively trying to conceive (either male or female) to refrain from activities that may expose them and their fetus to reproductive health hazards such as chemical, physical, or biologic agents (Polovich and Olsen, 2018). Alternate duty that does not include HD preparation or administration must be made available upon request to both men and women in the aforementioned situations or who have other medical reasons for avoiding exposure to HDs. The employee has the responsibility of notifying the employer of the specific situation (e.g., pregnancy, preconception, breast-feeding).
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine provides guidelines for reproductive hazard management.
Additional resources can be found within:
ONS Position Statements, ONS Voice articles, and ONS Videos
Connor, T.H., Lawson, C.C., Polovich, M., & McDiarmid, M.A. (2014). Reproductive health risks associated with occupational exposures to antineoplastic drugs in health care settings: A review of the evidence. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 56, 901–910. https://doi.org/10.1097/JOM .0000000000000249
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016). Controlling occupational exposure to hazardous drugs. Retrieved from www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardousdrugs/controlling_occex _hazardousdrugs.html.
Polovich, M., & Olsen, M.M. (Eds.). (2018). Safe handling of hazardous drugs (3rd ed.). Pittsburgh, PA: Oncology Nursing Society.
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