Women working in fields today such as construction can face more problems than men working in the same field. Women face physical dangers that are often overlooked because they don’t apply to men. Some of these include: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Women’s Health, and Ergonomics. To expand on each of these PPE is usually only ordered for men in men’s sizing because most of the workers are men. While it may not seem like a big deal initially if a safety vest is a little too large it is a big deal if a hard hat, or respiratory mask is the wrong size. This could cause a serious life-threatening injury. While it is possible to purchase women-sized apparel, some companies do not do so and just assume the man’s small is close enough. In fact, a 2017 study found that only three in ten women are given PPE designed for them.
Women’s Health is another issue. Many women are concerned about the effect of chemicals on their reproductive health and while they are pregnant. Additionally how the equipment is designed to be used on a construction site does not take into account women who are pregnant and the fact that it could damage a fetus or reproductive organs. Pumping breastmilk is another issue that is often not addressed on the work site. In many cases there is not a sanitary place to pump so women have no option but to go to a restroom or their car. Finally the last danger that we’ll discuss today is ergonomics. Many pieces of equipment, machinery or tools, are not built or adjusted for a woman’s size. And proper ergonomics for a pregnant woman is critical. As their center of balance changes, modifications need to be made to workstations, and they shouldn’t be lifting heavy items.
What can you do you may ask? As the employer you can examine your tools, PPE, machinery, workstations and other workplace items women use to see where potential problems may be. Also, take a look at your workplace injuries and claims. Are there specific areas or machines that appear to be dangerous for women? Involve women in making decisions that affect them. If you are buying new PPE, purchase women-specific items that will fit your female employees. Also let them try on their options to ensure they fit correctly. Finally ask questions and listen to the responses. This is important and a key to job satisfaction regardless of gender. Just by asking, “Is there anything you would change about your job?” or “What can we do to help you become more productive?” These questions go a long way and makes the employees feel more invested in their role. Recognizing these problems early is a great start to making the workplace better for everyone.
Information about the Author: Lexi graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a concentration in Marketing. In 2009, she went back to graduate school to earn her MBA at Loyola University Maryland. Lexi has been with MMA since 2012 and is proud to have developed their strategic marketing plan from the ground up. She is responsible for all agency branding and has created standardized processes for newsletters, social media usage, eblasts, and has helped develop and update the company website. In addition to marketing responsibilities, she also demonstrates our interactive portal to clients and manages PR activities for the firm.
Director of Marketing & Communications