Providing Safety for Women in Construction
Include sexual harassment prevention training in safety and health programs.
Ensure all communication materials are gender-neutral and include women. Visual materials should include examples of female construction workers to promote an integrated construction workplace.
To address the problem of workplace isolation, employers, apprenticeship programs and unions (where responsible) should assign female workers to work in groups of two or more when possible, especially those who are relatively new to the construction trade.
Make sure supervisors are trained in ensuring the safety of female workers and can answer any questions workers may have.
Gender-separate sanitary facilities should be provided on worksites.
Where changing rooms are provided on construction sites, they should also be gender-separated and provided with inside and outside locking mechanisms.
Employees should be allowed to use sanitary or hand-washing facilities as needed.
Toilet facilities should be kept clean and in good repair with clean toilet paper within reach.
Hand-washing facilities should exist within close proximity to toilet facilities.
Health and safety training
Employers and unions should make skills training courses available and encourage all workers to take advantage of them.
Journeymen should establish mentoring relationships with new workers to provide informal skills and safety training.
Supervisors need to emphasize safety as well as productivity on the job site.
Employers should emphasize that safety training is as important as skills training.
PPE and PPC
The design of PPE and PPC for women should be based on female measurements.
Union apprenticeship programs should provide female construction workers with resources on where to find equipment and clothing that fits.
Employers should make sure that all workers of all sizes have well-fitting PPE and PPC for safe and efficient performance.
PPE intended for use by women workers should be based upon female anthropometric (body measurement) data.
It should be accepted that some workers need to use different lifting and material handling techniques.
Employers, unions, apprenticeship programs and other training entities should review skills training programs to see whether alternative methods are included for getting work accomplished by workers of different sizes or strengths. All programs should emphasize the importance of safe lifting.
Workers need to hear from employers and unions that it’s acceptable to ask for help and to explore alternative ways to lift and carry.
All workers should be trained in the proper ways to lift and bend.
Employers should post Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each chemical present on the worksite.
Workers should read all SDSs and share the information with their physicians if they are pregnant or planning to start a family.
All workers should educate themselves about the potential reproductive risks from exposure to certain chemicals.
Employers should make reasonable accommodations for workers in later stages of pregnancy, rather than forcing them out of the workplace.
During the later stages of pregnancy, women should consult with their physicians about strenuous physical activities on the job.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that, in a one-year period, 41 percent of female construction workers suffered from gender harassment.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. Source: OSHA