Guide to Men’s Reproductive Health in the Mining Workplace
A Laurentian University & Workplace Safety North Initiative
Sandra C. Dorman, PhD & Céline Larivière PhD
There is accumulating evidence that some workplace environments expose workers to hazards that potentially cause reproductive health problems, many of which are preventable. In the mining industry workers are exposed to a host of potential hazards and some of those hazards may impact upon their reproductive or sexual health. Specific concerns tend to vary by age, with younger workers generally focused on fertility issues that may impact upon their ability to start a family and older workers being more concerned about sexual health. Regardless of age or presenting concern, miners experiencing fertility problems or other sexual health issues may benefit from a formal hazard assessment of their job to determine if occupational exposures are contributing to or causing their reproductive health problem.
What is a reproductive hazard?
A hazard is an agent that has the potential to cause harm to a person. A ‘reproductive’ hazard is an agent that can adversely affect the reproductive health of women and men and/or negatively impact the growth and development of a fetus. Examples of reproductive problems linked to hazardous agents include: reduced fertility, by harming sperm or ova; miscarriage, if an embryo is damaged (toxic agents can be transferred by sperm); or disruption of hormonal pathways involved in reproduction and sexual function (e.g. testosterone decline). Hazardous agents are present in both non-occupational and occupational settings.