What you should know
Some jobs can affect your reproductive health and the health of your family. Reproductive hazards affect both men and women. Even if your job involves some hazards, there are things you can do to protect yourself and stay safe at work:
1. Ask questions
By law, you have the right to receive information on hazards in your workplace and to receive training on how to stay safe.
- Ask your employer or your company’s safety officer about the types of hazards for your specific job tasks and how you can stay safe while doing your job.
- If the company has done testing to identify workplace hazards (e.g., measuring chemicals in the air), your employer is required to give you a copy of the results if you ask for them.
- If you work with chemicals, your employer should have Safety Data Sheets (also called Material Safety Data Sheets or (MSDS) available for all employees to read.
The NIOSH website has information about some common workplace hazards and resources for further information. If you have other workplace hazards you would like information about, or if you have multiple hazards in your workplace, you can talk to your employer or a health care professional, or you can ask specific questions through CDC-INFO. Learn about your rights as a worker.
2. Protect yourself from exposure
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly. If your employer gives you PPE such as gloves, hearing protection, or a respirator, make sure you are using it consistently and correctly. Remember to check your PPE before using it to make sure it is functioning properly. Talk to your employer or safety officer if you have questions about how to use your PPE.
- Follow the best safety and health practices. Learn about best work practices for health and safety, like always keeping chemicals in sealed containers when not in use. Follow any safe work guidelines or protocols in your workplace, even if your tasks take a little longer. If your employer offers health and safety training, take part. You can also find more information on workplace health and safety topics from NIOSH.
- Wash off if your work involves coming into contact with chemicals, avoid skin contact, and remember to wash your hands before eating and before leaving work.
3. Talk to your doctor or health care professional
Not all doctors or healthcare professionals remember to ask you about your job. If you are concerned about your health, or if you and your partner are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, tell your doctor:
- What kind of work you do
- What kinds of hazards are in your workplace (e.g., chemicals, noise, heat, working night shifts, lifting heavy objects)
- If there is anything specific you are worried about or have questions about.
Ask your healthcare professional if there is any part of your job you should be avoiding during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Learn more about work and breastfeeding.
4. Protect your home and family
Are you accidentally bringing work hazards home with you? Chemicals can come home on your skin, hair, clothes, and shoes, and they can contaminate your car and home. Keep a healthy car and home by changing clothes and showering before leaving work, keeping work clothes out of the living areas of the house, and washing work clothes in separate laundry loads from the family’s clothes. Learn more about protecting your home and family.
5. Request a Health Hazard Evaluation
If you think your job is affecting your health or the health of your family, NIOSH can help. A Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) is a free service from NIOSH that will give you or your employer advice about what kinds of health hazards might be in your workplace and how to make your workplace safer. Learn more about health hazard evaluations.
When Should I Return to Work After Birth?
Can I Still Breastfeed When I Return to Work?