Although women hold an insignificant percentage of jobs in construction nationwide, including in Illinois, they face unique hazards. In 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recognized that disparity, and an alliance was formed with the National Association of Women in Construction. The two groups recently renewed this alliance and secured another five-year agreement. Their goal is to limit workplace injury incidents that happen because of the limited protection available for women.
The primary areas that will be addressed by this pact include workplace intimidation, violence, harassment, sanitation and personal protective equipment. The culture of construction workplaces are male dominated, and women often find themselves the subjects of humiliation and belittling. In some cases, they are even vulnerable to physical assaults.
When it comes to protection against workplace injuries, the fact that women are typically smaller in size and strength when compared to their male colleagues creates a problem. Along with some tools being too heavy for women to handle, personal protective equipment seldom fit their smaller statures. This includes fall protection harnesses, respirators, gloves, safety shoes, coveralls, eye protection and hard hats. Another unique hazard for women in the construction industry is the exposure to chemicals and other substances that might be harmful to pregnant women and their fetuses.
However, women in the Illinois construction industry enjoy the same protection as their male counterparts when it comes to their health and safety. All employees are covered by the workers’ compensation insurance system of the state. Any victim of a workplace injury may file benefits claims to cover medical expenses and lost income, and they may utilize the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to navigate such claims.
Source: safety.blr.com, “OSHA renews alliance to protect women in construction“, Feb. 14, 2018