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Report Offers Solutions to Make Workplaces Safer for Women

Monday, April 15, 2019
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) has released its report on women and safety in the modern workplace, a follow-up to its Women’s Workplace Safety Summit held last October. Sponsored by Amazon, the report, Women and Safety in the Modern Workplace: Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Can Boost Safety, Productivity and Profitability, focuses on three main challenges faced by women in the workplace and offers potential solutions.

Barriers to advancement. Because the occupational safety and health profession typically has been male-dominated, women face barriers to entering and advancing in safety careers. Solutions in the ASSP report include emboldened recruitment and retention efforts; formalized mentorship and sponsorship programs; systemic safeguards that remove barriers and promote success; and the creation of an inclusive culture that incorporates differences rather than trying to mitigate them. Also, organizations must pay close attention to the existence of unconscious bias among employees to help them understand and overcome gender-related prejudices.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for women.
Women across many industries have struggled with ill-fitting PPE, putting them at higher risk on the job. To improve the availability of PPE designed for women, the ASSP report recommends that manufacturers gather more data in developing universal fit guidelines; provide ratings and reviews of PPE and work gear; and publish guidance materials for users. ASSP is in the early stages of developing a technical report that will provide guidance on selecting gear for different populations.

Violence at work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, homicides are the leading cause of workplace fatalities among women. In 2016, they represented 24 percent of all fatal occupational injuries to women, compared to 9 percent of fatal workplace injuries to men. Verbal abuse, physical attacks and sexual assault are additional concerns. The ASSP report suggests educating and training employees on the problems; evaluating building security procedures; and providing a hotline so workers can easily report issues.


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