Women in the Construction Workplace: Providing Equitable Safety and Health Protection
Study and recommendations based on the work of the ACCSH Health and Safety of Women in Construction. The focus is on the prevalence of a hostile workplace, restricted access to sanitary toilets, protective clothing and equipment in the wrong sizes, and poor on-the-job training as factors that adversely impacted women's ability to perform their jobs safely, and recommendations for correcting these situations.
As increasing numbers of women enter the construction trades, concerns about their health and safety are growing. In addition to the primary safety and health hazards faced by all construction workers, there are safety and health issues specific to female construction workers. The small percentage of females within the construction trades and the serious health and safety problems unique to female construction workers have a circular effect. Safety and health problems in construction create barriers to women entering and remaining in this field. In turn, the small numbers of women workers on construction worksites foster an environment in which these safety and health problems arise or continue.
Sources of information for this report include a survey of tradeswomen conducted by CWIT and two research studies by NIOSH. The key findings and recommendations are
organized into seven categories: Workplace Culture; Sanitary Facilities; Personal Protective Equipment; Ergonomics; Reproductive Hazards; Health and Safety Training; and Injury and Illness Data and Research.
Similar concerns surfaced in all three studies. The prevalence of a hostile workplace, restricted access to sanitary toilets, protective clothing and equipment in the wrong sizes, and poor on-the-job training-these were significant issues that adversely impacted women's ability to perform their jobs safely.
Many of the identified problems are amenable to change through engineering, behavioral, or administrative intervention. The recommendations in this report are directed at employers, labor unions, manufacturers, training programs, supervisors, and workers. Improving the work conditions for women in the construction trades will not only ensure their health and safety, it will also serve to attract and retain women as workers during a critical time of labor shortages in this industry.
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