Safety and health challenges in the construction industry often deter women from entering and staying in the field. While there are over 800,000 women working in the construction trades, this is still less than 10 percent of all American construction workers.
Now the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWC) have joined forces to create training resources intended to protect female construction workers. Specifically, the program “will focus on musculoskeletal, sanitation hazards, and issues related to poorly fitting PPE.”
The goal is to improve construction site work conditions that in particular affect the health and safety of women in order to attract and retain female workers to the construction trades. This is especially important because of the critical shortage of skilled workers in some areas throughout the US.
According to OSHA, there are many health and safety challenges employers encounter when encouraging women to enter into a heavily male-dominated industry. Women are often issued personal protective equipment (PPE) and personal protective clothing (PPC) that doesn’t fit properly and, therefore, compromises their personal safety. One issue often not evaluated, but should be highly considered is that on the job, women often avoid the overused and poorly maintained restroom facilities available at many construction sites. The result: women use the facilities less often placing themselves at risk of bladder and kidney infections; or try to reduce the need for restrooms by cutting back on water intake, thereby, risking heat exposure.
The hope of the two-year agreement between OSHA and NAWC is for training programs and other resources geared specifically for females working in the construction trades.
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