A new report from the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) outlines three main challenges faced by women in connection to workplace safety and offers potential solutions.
Women and Safety in the Modern Workplace: Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Can Boost Safety lists these three main challenges:
- Barriers to advancement in the safety field because the OSH profession has typically been male-dominated. Potential solutions include recruitment and retention efforts, mentorship and sponsorship programs, inclusive cultures that incorporate differences, and awareness of unconscious bias.
- Ill-fitting PPE for women. Women have often struggled with ill-fitting PPE, putting them at higher risk for injuries. To increase the availability of better-fitting gear, ASSP suggests PPE manufacturers gather more data in developing protective gear, provide ratings and reviews of PPE, and publish guidance for users.
- Violence at work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says homicides are the leading cause of workplace fatalities among women (24% compared to 9% for men). ASSP suggests educating and training employees about the problem, evaluating building security, and providing a hotline so workers can easily report issues.
“A diverse and inclusive workplace that includes more women in leadership roles is not only safer, but it also leads to greater productivity and profitability,” said ASSP President-Elect Diana Stegall.
According to the 2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, serious nonfatal workplace injuries amount to nearly $60 billion in direct U.S. workers’ compensation costs – that’s more than $1 billion a week.
Creating one-size-fits all safety solutions won’t improve these numbers, according to the report, since women and men are prone to different occupational injuries.
The report is available on the ASSP website along with three videos that discuss the obstacles women face on the job.
ASSP’s Women in Safety Excellence (WISE) Common Interest Group helped drive the Women’s Workplace Safety Summit in October 2018 that led to the report.