Today is International Women's Day. Sadly in the past, the workplace needs of men have been prioritised over those of women. Until relatively recently, risk prevention strategies in business have been focused on traditionally male orientated industries like construction, heavy manufacturing, and mining. Throughout business, women have been deemed to do safer roles.
Now, in a world of work that is becoming more equal by the day, some workplaces have not adjusted adequately to providing the correct protective equipment for women. It is important that differences between men and women are taken into account when risk assessing to ensure all workers, irrespective of gender are protected and that their welfare is adequately controlled.
Very often women are more exposed to repetitive or monotonous work, and are often more likely to be exposed to harassment than men. This can lead to stressful situations in the workplace, and as such, some women may be more prone to back strain, skin diseases, headaches and eyestrain.
In some roles, such as cleaners - traditionally a role undertaken by women, they will be exposed to cleaning chemicals, then go home and do similar domestic chores, thus being doubly exposed to chemicals, as well as adding to fatigue.
In addition there are risks that can affect women of child-bearing age, and if you are pregnant, the Management Regulations require employers to pay special attention to hazards that may affect you or your baby. These include exposure to chemicals, radiation, manual handling, inadequate toilet facilities or breaks, sitting or standing for long periods of time, and even travelling.
If you are an employer and one of your employees informs you that they are, or may be pregnant, then you have legal duties. if risks to the woman or baby cannot be reduced or removed, then you can suspend the employee on full pay for as long as is necessary to protect her health and safety and that of her child.
If, as an employer, you need help with assessing this sort of risk, then contact KSH Safety Services today.
Update: if you enjoyed this article, The Guardian published an article in 2019 on the gender gap and it’s links to safety. Read it here.