Developments in reproductive risk management.
Internationally, the debate on aims for occupational health policy is expanding its horizons. Included among the issues are not only concerns about safety for workers, but also for their progeny. Equality among the sexes is also assuming a prominent position. In several countries, existing and proposed legislation already considers these matters. In the course of this article it is argued that this legislation and its implementation are inadequate. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, what constitutes health risks for workers exposed to chemical substances is subject to different interpretations. This is further complicated when one includes risks to reproductive function and to the progeny: the reproductive risks of toxicity. The different interpretations of the concepts of safety and equality are also discussed. There are differences in regulations and in standards about whether or not safety factors should be used when knowledge is uncertain. The operation of reasonable measures with a generic or sex specific policy also differs. Secondly, the current occupational exposure limits are set too high. These aspects are considered and it is probable that the policy aims should be made more specific. An elaborated approach that includes the "precautionary principle" in safety standards is proposed. To advise employers in their role as managers of reproductive risks of toxicity, a recently developed system for occupational health and safety services is described. This system is based on two criteria: effectiveness and reasonableness of proposed measures. The effectiveness criterion includes the precautionary principle; the reasonableness criterion includes equal rights and opportunities for men and women. Finally, a supportive governmental policy that is consistent with the most recent international development is recommended.