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Women are my equal in the workplace, NOT MY Junior !

Regardless if it is a police force like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or working at ARBYS or the Local Hospital, women should and ARE your equal in the workplace, but they have certain occupational safety issues that you the employers need to consider for safety and helping that employee on the job site. So as the employer WHY THE HECK ARE YOU NOT SAYING THIS AND DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT, it states under OHS Laws the EMPLOYER WILL PROTECT THE WORKER!

Men and women are not the same biologically (sex differences) and the jobs they do, their working conditions and how they are treated by society are not the same (gender differences).

As the labour market remains heavily segregated, women and men still do different work. Women and men may be exposed to different physical and psychological hazards and risks at the workplace. In addition, exposure to the same risks may also impact women and men differently. Work predominantly undertaken by women is often presumed to be lighter, easier and safer than that undertaken by men, and consequently receives less attention. The safety and health risks associated with work dominated by male employees are generally better known and many preventive measures have been identified. Nevertheless, to ensure continued improvement in workplace safety and health for both men and women, gender differences must be taken into account in the design of OSH legislation, policies, systems and preventive measures.

It is therefore important to raise awareness about the different way sexes are exposed to risks. It is important that information, education and training are provided to all those who can play a role in mainstreaming gender into OSH, including: ■ employers; ■ labour and OSH inspectors; ■ worker representatives and workers; ■ safety practitioners carrying out risk assessments; ■ occupational health researchers; and ■ occupational health professionals such as doctors and nurses and other experts including safety engineers and physiotherapists.

TRADITIONAL DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT

Traditionally men are more likely than women to work in hazardous industries such as mining, forestry, fishing and construction. In light of the above, men are more likely than women to be exposed to risks that, if not adequately controlled, can result in serious or fatal accidents. As a consequence, OSH laws have traditionally focussed on visibly dangerous work largely carried out by men; while the focus in the case of women (especially pregnant women) has been on protective laws prohibiting certain types of hazardous work and exposures, such as working in mines, at night, with lead or ionizing radiations or carrying heavy loads. Work undertaken by women is generally regarded as safe, because it is less hazardous, and women’s occupational injuries as well as illnesses such as work-related stress, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) or dermatitis have been under-diagnosed, under-reported and under-compensated compared with men’s.

Current Legislation makes these things known

Legislation pays attention to the biological differences between men and women to ensure they are equally protected.

■ There is full legislative coverage of the sectors and occupations where women and men work.

■ OSH legislation is not restricted to protecting workers in visibly dangerous jobs associated with high levels of accidents and injuries; but more attention is paid to all sectors and occupations, and in particular, those where women predominate.

OSH legislation requires employers to implement risk management, preventive and protective measures ensuring gender differences are addressed.

■ OSH legislation takes into account existing legislation concerning the prevention of violence and harassment at work.

■ OSH legislation takes into account the interaction between work and home and ensures that workers can have a reasonable work-life balance. Where relevant, such legislation should take into account and refer to other relevant legislation on workers with family responsibilities

Such differences can affect the hazards men and women face at work and how to assess and control them. This is why OHS raises awareness of the OSH issues facing women at work.

Differences that can affect OSH

There are differences that affect the risks that men and women face. Women:

·        Work in specific sectors and specific types of work

·        Balance dual responsibilities at work and home

·        Are underrepresented at supervisor and management level

·        Are physically different to men, although there is often more variation between women than between men and women, for example, in physical strength.

·        Do jobs that are often wrongly assumed to be safe and easy

Often these differences are not recognised in safety and health practice. What’s more, workload and stress-related risks to women in the workplace are often underestimated.

A gender-sensitive approach to OSH means recognising and taking account of the differences between male and female workers.

PPE can be a HUGE issue to solve in both use and comfort

In order to ensure that the provision and use of equipment, tools and PPE are suitable for both men and women workers: ■ Safety and health authorities should ensure that designers of work equipment, tools and PPE develop or use anthropometric data that reflect the characteristics of the actual working population thereby ensuring equipment, tools and PPE are suitable for both sexes. ■ Employers should, when exposure to hazards cannot be otherwise controlled, provide workers with suitable PPE at no cost. They should involve both men and women workers in the selection of PPE and train all workers in its use including its maintenance. ■ Workers and their representatives should cooperate with the employer in fulfilling his/her duties by using equipment and PPE correctly and not rendering it inoperative.

In Canada; In response to the problem of limited availability of PPE for women, the Industrial Accident Prevention Association and the Ontario Women’s Directoratejointly developed a guide to PPE aimed at users of PPE, employers, unions, workplace health and safety organizations and manufacturers and suppliers, together with a directory listing manufacturers and suppliers able to meet the PPE needs of women workers. As a “change agent project”, it aimed to increase worker health and safety protection; remove a barrier to equality of employment for women; and ensure that women entering non-traditional fields could perform efficiently the given tasks of the job.

Employers can:

·        Aim to make work safer and easier for everyone

·        Include gender issues in risk assessment

·        Look at the real work done and avoid assumptions about who is at risk and why

·        Offer flexibility in working hours

·        Involve women in OSH decision-making

Women face different workplace health challenges than men. This is partly because men and women tend to have different kinds of jobs.  Women generally have more work-related cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, respiratory diseases, infectious and parasitic diseases, and anxiety and stress disorders.  Social, economic, and cultural factors also put women at risk for injury and illness. For example, women are more likely than men to do contingent work part-time, temporary, or contract work. Compared to workers in traditional job arrangements, contingent workers have lower incomes and fewer benefits. Like all workers in insecure jobs, women may fear that bringing up a safety issue could result in job loss or more difficult work situations. They may also be less likely to report a work-related injury.

Within North America’s workforce, immigrant women are a particularly at-risk group. They face barriers related to their immigrant status as well as issues in balancing work, home, and family. Compared to native-born women, immigrant women work in industries and jobs with much higher injury rates.

Sexist treatment and gender discrimination in the workplace can affect a woman’s physical and mental health. Sexual harassment can lead to

·        anxiety

·        depression

·        lower self-esteem

·        alienation

·        insomnia

·        nausea

·        headaches

Balancing work and family tasks can put additional stress on women, who in many families still take primary responsibility for childcare and eldercare. When family and work demands collide, the resulting stress can lead to physical health problems such as poor appetite, lack of sleep, increase in blood pressure, fatigue, and increased susceptibility to infection. It can also result in mental health problems such as burnout and depression.

Musculoskeletal Disorders:

Sprains and strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and other musculoskeletal disorders account for more than half (52%) of the injuries and illnesses suffered by female workers, as compared to 45% for male workers.

Further research is needed to determine the factors that place women at greater risk for musculoskeletal disorders. Research will examine if physical differences between men and women, or differences in the jobs they hold, contribute to this increased risk for women.

Reproductive Hazards:

Three-quarters of women of reproductive age are in the workforce. Over half of the children born in the United States are born to working mothers. OSH conducts both basic research and population-based studies to learn whether women may be at risk for reproductive health hazards related to their work environment. There are many workplace hazards that can affect the reproductive health of both sexes and their offspring. These include chemical, biological and physical hazards including pesticides, metals, dyes and solvents; noise and vibration; radiation; and infectious diseases. In addition, heavy lifting, standing or sitting for long periods of time have all been identified as occupational risks for pregnant women. Certain hazards can also affect men’s fertility, sex drive or sexual performance as well as their ability to father healthy children, and some can cause cancer of male reproductive organs. They can also affect the woman, the child and the pregnancy, even if they have not been directly exposed to harmful agents themselves if they are carried in sperm or seminal fluid. It is important that both in national and workplace policy a gender-sensitive approach is adopted and the wider reproductive health of all workers, male and female, is considered.

Violence In The Workplace:

Homicide Homicide is the leading cause of injury death for women in the workplace. Homicide accounts for 40% of all workplace death among female workers. Workplace homicides are primarily robbery-related, and often occur in grocery/convenience stores, eating and drinking establishments, and gasoline service stations.

Over 25% of female victims of workplace homicide are assaulted by people they know (coworkers, customers, spouses, or friends). Domestic violence incidents that spill into the workplace account for 16% of female victims of job-related homicides.

Nonfatal Assault Female workers are also at risk for nonfatal violence. Women were the victims in nearly two-thirds of the injuries resulting from workplace assaults. Most of these assaults (70%) were directed at women employed in service occupations, such as health care, while an additional 20% of these incidents occurred in retail locations, such as restaurants and grocery stores.

Cancer:

An estimated 180,000 new cases of breast cancer and 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed in 2000. Workplace exposures to hazardous substances may play a role in the development of these types of cancer. OSH is studying several hazardous substances to determine whether there is a link to cancers that affect women, such as cervical and breast cancer.

OSH is conducting studies of women exposed to the following hazardous substances:

·        Ethylene oxide: Ethylene oxide (ETO) is used to sterilize medical supplies. More than 100,000 women are exposed to ETO in the workplace. Hospital workers and workers involved in sterilization of medical supplies may be at risk of exposure to ETO.

·        PCBs: Polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs) were produced commercially for use in the electrical industry until 1977. Banned in 1977, products made with PCBs remain in the workplace and the environment. OSH is investigating a potential link between PCB exposure and breast cancer.

·        Perchloroethylene: Studies of working women exposed to perchloroethylene (PERC), the main solvent used in the drycleaning industry, will help evaluate its connection with cervical cancer.

·        Needle stick Injuries: Between 600,000-800,000 needle stick injuries occur annually in health care settings, mostly involving nurses. These injuries pose both physical and emotional threats to health care workers, as serious infections from blood borne pathogens (such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]) may result.

·        Latex Allergy: Health care workers may have an increased risk for developing latex allergy due to their use of latex gloves. Among health care workers who experience frequent latex exposure, 8-12% develop sensitivity to latex. Latex sensitivity may lead to symptoms of latex allergy, such as skin rashes; hives; nasal, eye, or sinus symptoms; asthma; and (rarely) shock.

This approach is beneficial for all employees, not just women. Recognising diversity, including gender differences, in the workforce is vital in ensuring the safety and health of both men and women workers. This approach acknowledges and makes visible the differences that exist between men and women workers in order to identify OSH risks and implement effective solutions.

In taking a gender sensitive approach, one recognizes that because of the different jobs women and men do and the different societal roles, expectations and responsibilities they have, women and men may be exposed to different physical and psychological risks at the workplace, thus requiring differing control measures. This approach also improves the understanding that the sexual division of labour, biological differences, employment patterns, social roles and social structures all contribute to gender-specific patterns of occupational hazards and risks. This needs to be taken into account if OSH policies and prevention strategies are to be effective.

Lead and Lag for Measurement not segregation

Sex-disaggregated data is essential for gender-sensitive research, analysis, strategic planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programs and projects as it presents information separately for women and men. Sex-disaggregated data reflects roles, real situations, general conditions of women and men in different contexts. Without sex-disaggregated data, it is more difficult to identify hazards and risks and the type of occupational injuries and diseases specifically affecting each sex and this hinders the development of effective OSH policies. Not all countries collect sex-disaggregated data. In this regard there is still a need to improve gender sensitivity in collecting, analysing and disseminating data on occupational injuries and diseases in order to obtain more accurate information for prevention purposes and policy design. Identifying the health gap between men and women at work should include the collection, management and analysis of sex-disaggregated data for planning, monitoring and evaluating the impacts of preventive measures and policies on OSH.

Data can be drawn from official OSH statistics which contain information by gender in, amongst others, the following topic areas: ■ Safety and health outcomes, e.g. accident records, morbidity and mortality. ■ Health determinants, e.g. biological, environmental, social & economic factors. ■ Health system performance, e.g. access to health services. The development of sex-disaggregated data allows for tackling OSH inequalities at work as it identifies issues that would be gender specific. The sex-disaggregated data on OSH could then be used to: ■ Identify and assess the different working conditions of women and men, including changes over time. ■ Improve knowledge and understanding of the impact of working conditions and environments on women’s and men’s occupational health. ■ Identify the main areas of concern, establish priorities and develop the most effective preventive measures for both women and men. ■ Allocate adequate resources according to real needs in an equitable manner. ■ Evaluate and monitor outcomes by gender. ■ Present and publish progress with indicators by gender.

Hazards and risks found in female-dominated work

Recognizing diversity, including gender differences, in the workforce is vital in ensuring the safety and health of both men and women workers. Whilst some progress has been made in this area, the Safety and Great Companies believes that more can and should be done. Gender differences should be considered in the development of occupational safety and health (OSH) policies and prevention strategies. This approach acknowledges and makes visible the differences that exist between men and women workers in order to identify OSH risks and implement effective solutions.

Taking a gender mainstreaming approach to reviewing and developing occupational safety and health legislation — Developing OSH policies to address gender inequalities in OSH practice — Ensuring consideration of gender differences in risk management — OSH research should properly take into account gender differences — Developing gender sensitive OSH indicators based on sex-disaggregated data — Promoting equal access to occupational health services and health care for all workers — Ensuring the participation of both men and women workers and their representatives in OSH measures, health promotion and decision-making — Developing gender-sensitive OSH information, education and training — Designing work equipment, tools and personal protective equipment for both men and women — Working time arrangements and work-life balance.

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