Figure 1
Workplace Reproductive/Developmental Hazards

Examine Figure 1 closely. There are huge implications for U.S. employers and EHS pros if the concepts are correct, which I believe they are.

First, let’s consider the term “unborn child.” U.S. employers will not have a choice if this term is politically correct or not. The term is mandated under the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System for Chemical Labeling (GHS), and where applicable will appear as a precautionary (P) or hazard (H) statement on chemical product labels, safety data sheets, and signs. To learn more about P and H statements under GHS visit http://

An example of the term unborn child used as an H statement on an SDS is shown in Figure 2. Figure 2 is a clip from a current SDS developed by Glenn Springs Holding, Inc.; Dallas, TX (the entire SDS can be found at BE%233.pdf). Manganese in the product triggers the H360 statement. The yellow highlight is for purpose of this article only and does not appear on the SDS. The SDS is GHS compliant now because the manufacturer ships the product globally. GHS is underway in Europe and many Asian and other countries.

If your company is global, it is probably doing GHS now; if not, wait for the U.S. to catch up. Regardless of what the U.S. does or doesn’t do with GHS, if you get chemical products from a global supplier, GHS is coming your way.

Figure 2 - SDS H360 statement for unborn child


OSHA issued its proposed rule to align the GHS with the agency’s hazard communication standard on September 30, 2009. The proposed rule can be found at pdf. OSHA defines the differences between the terms reproductive and developmental on page 50463 of the proposed rule. Reproductive effect interferes with an employee’s fertility. Development “interferes with the normal development of the conceptus either before or after birth, which is induced during pregnancy or results from parental exposure.”

Figure 3 shows how the OSHA sign and label for lead (i.e. OSHA substance specific standards) must change to meet GHS. Yellow highlights are for purpose of this article and do not appear within the proposed rule.

When the Hazcom rule is final (assumes the language in Figure 3 is unchanged), employers will be required by OSHA to address developmental toxicity and consider possible damage to the unborn child.

Can OSHA do this? Congress authorized OSHA to assure protection for healthy working adults. OSHA can establish law to protect the fertility of an employee, but it is difficult is understand how it can establish law to protect an unborn child. The permissible exposure limit for lead is established to protect an employee. An unborn child is not an employee and may or may not be more sensitive to exposure to lead.

Figure 3
Clip OSHA Proposed Hazcom Rule (page 50544)

Worker population

The movement to GHS and its approach to developmental toxicity comes at a critical time for U.S. employers. Women are now the majority of the U.S. workforce. Approximately 80 percent of all women will become pregnant sometime during their working lifetime. In 2007, more children were born in the U.S. than ever before, surpassing the Baby Boom Generation (1946-1964). As the recession subsides, births will be up again in record numbers. This means a record number of unborn children will be exposed to developmental toxicity in the workplace.

Dynamic and global

A main reason dynamic and global appear on the developmental side in Figure 1 is that EU REACH will continue to generate new toxicological studies to determine if chemicals have CMR (carcinogen, mutagenic and reproductive) effects. Employers worldwide, including U.S., will be impacted by these studies. GHS and REACH could provide ammunition for some people to launch lawsuits if a chemical interferes with normal development and is “induced during pregnancy or results from parental exposure.”

Is the concept correct?

I seek your views on the concepts in Figure 1. Please drop me an email at Dan.Markiewicz@gmail. com if you disagree with any of the concepts. If the concepts are correct, how should EHS pros manage the right side?