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Safety Concerns With Women in Construction

Posted on June 12, 2013 in Blog by admin

In the United States the responsibility for safety and health problems in the workplace comes under the remit of-the United States Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Within the construction market there is input supplied by the Advisory Committee on Health and Construction Safety (ACCSH), an independent committee that provides another perspective to OSHA on construction safety problems. Usually when a risk assessment is done and it is determined PPE is needed for the workers little thought has gone to the subsequent concern:

  • Is it proper and acceptable for the hazards involved and for the surroundings where it will probably be utilized?
  • Does it stop or adequately control the dangers involved without raising the total degree of threat?
  • Has the state-of health of these workers who’ll be wearing the PPE been considered?
  • What are the requirements of the occupation and the demands it places on the wearer, for example limited vision, the duration of time the PPE must be worn and the physical demands the PPE places on the wearer?
  • Can ,when needed, the proper amount of training be provided? Having insufficient or ill fitting clothes, boots, gloves, or safety gear presents a safety risk for any worker.

It appears there is little attempt to take into consideration the smaller physique of ladies and the measurements for security workwear like ear, head, and face protection in women’s sizes. Footwear and gloves were frequently insufficient or not suitable for female workers in construction, that might be due to unavailability (ie, manufacturers do not make or vendors do not stock), limited availability, or absence of understanding among employers and workers about where gear designed for a woman’s body structure could be found. It isn’t a good enough explanation.
Outsized clothing is in itself a danger! Yet employers believed they were meeting the technical standards and the girls were whining on ‘fashion/fit’ reasons as opposed to on occupational safety. Clothes or gear that’s not sized, or doesn’t suit, correctly can compromise personal safety. Additionally, it may not operate efficiently in the style for which it was created. The report said that, “Poor fit compromises the safety given by the garment or gear. The dearth of proper PPC and PPE can cause serious security and health hazards for girls, and men of smaller sizes, who rely on protective garments and equipment to assist them with being able to keep safe.
If these essential questions were asked there would not have become the outcry twenty years back from many women in the construction industry in the US, definitely the women of Chicago (CWIT – Chicago Women In Trades) and those women making their voices heard in NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety). Alas, most of the problems they raised then have yet to be addressed satisfactorily so. In regard to PPE, the girls complained that there were few if any smaller sizes available – considering the first level in the preceding list and really the second and the fourth points also. This criticism could readily be addressed if comfort and fit had been on the head of the business buyer in charge of PPE.