OSHA Renews Alliance with NAWIC
A Dec. 15 press release confirmed that OSHA renewed its alliance with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). The goal of the alliance is to continue to promote safe and healthy working conditions for female construction workers. The pact, which began in 2013, was renewed for another five years.
NAWIC, formed in 1955, provides educational and professional development opportunities to more than 4,000 women working in construction. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt discussed the importance of such an alliance.
“Women represent a small, but growing segment of the construction workforce,” Sweatt said. “OSHA’s renewed alliance with NAWIC will continue to promote innovative solutions to safety and health hazards unique to female construction workers.”
Hazards Faced by Female Construction Workers
So what are the hazards specific to women in construction? According to the press release, the alliance will target health hazards including personal protective equipment selection, hazard protection, and sanitation. A 2013 report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health found that these were the leading health hazards for women in construction.
Here some of the specific challenges women in construction face:
Personal Protective Equipment
According to the report, most PPE is designed to fit men, which can end up being loose-fitting and uncomfortable on women who may, as a result, choose not to wear the equipment. This can put female workers at risk of exposure to hazardous material. The International Safety Equipment Association (ISAE) has a list of companies that supply female-specific PPE.
Lead and other hazardous chemicals are dangerous for everyone and can cause serious health issues such as respiratory diseases, cancer, etc. Women may also be at risk of reproductive issues when exposed to hazardous chemicals. This is especially troubling when considering the fact that many women are not provided with proper PPE.
Most construction sites have temporary restrooms, which can mean a lack of clean toilets and hand washing. Faced with unsanitary toilets — many women are forced to hold their bladders for long periods during the day, leading to bladder and kidney issues.
The OSHA Act of 1970 states that all employers must provide safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. This includes providing these conditions to working men and women alike — even if needs vary by gender.
Medical Surveillance Testing with Worksite Medical®
Medical surveillance, which is, in most cases, on OSHA requirement, is a great way to monitor the health of all employees on a construction site. Worksite Medical® can come directly to the job site and perform all of the necessary testing to keep your company in compliance. We also offer respirator fit testing to make sure that all your employees have the proper protection they need.
Are you near Belcamp, MD or Ellwood City, PA? Contact us today to find out more about our workplace injury clinics.