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Making the Workplace Safe from Whom?

Lucas KM
NIOSH 1977 Jul:151-154
Legal questions are explored in the problem of assuring adequate protection to women of child bearing capacity while at the same time providing women with equal employment opportunity. It is held that OSHA cannot set standards in this area that would make workplaces safe for fetuses because inadequate data exist. In the present state of the law, an employer would generally be held liable to a child for prenatal injury which resulted from either the employer's negligence or from a toxic substance. In most jurisdictions a parent's waiver to work at a job with risk to the fetus does not preclude the child from recovering damages. To satisfy Equal Employment Opportunity principles, however, an employer must define the exclusion of women of child-bearing capacity as narrowly as possible. Many questions are brought up showing various situations, but no solutions are given. There is no legal precedent for this issue of whether exclusion of women of child-bearing capacity is prohibited discriminatory treatment under equal employment laws. This issue cannot be resolved in the courts, it is contended, unless the courts reject the traditional and well settled concepts of tort liability. The legislative forum is considered the proper place for addressing the issues, but the lack of scientific knowledge in this area is a major hindrance. (Contract No. 210-76-0118)
NIOSH-Contract; Contract-210-76-0118; Sex-factors; Pregnancy; Congenital-defects; Safety-standards; Exposure-limits; Legislation; Environment; Management; Teratology;
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings;
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHEW (NIOSH) Publication No. 77-179
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Special Populations; Work Environment and Workforce;
Source Name
Occupational Safety and Health Symposia 1976, Division of Technical Services, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio
Page last reviewed: January 14, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division