Categories: Bloodborne pathogens, Cancer, Chemicals, Construction, Health care, Personal protective equipment, Stress, Transportation, Violence, women
May 13th, 2013 10:04 am ET - Naomi Swanson,Ph.D.; Julie Tisdale-Pardi, MA; CAPT Leslie MacDonald, Sc.D.; Hope M. Tiesman, Ph.D.
This week is Women’s Health Week. With over 58% of U.S. women in the labor force[i], the workplace must be considered when looking at women’s overall health. We must keep in mind that susceptibility to hazards can be different for men and women. Additionally, women face different workplace health challenges than men partly because men and women tend to have different kinds of jobs. Women generally have more work-related cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, and anxiety and stress disorders. Social, economic, and cultural factors also put women at risk for injury and illness. While workplace exposures can affect both male and female reproduction, issues related to reproduction and pregnancy are of particular concern to women. Below you will find summaries, with links to more research, of some hazards faced by women in the workplace as well as links to industry-specific research from NIOSH that relates to women. More information is available on the NIOSH topic page Women’s Safety and Health Issues at Work.
Safety and Health Issues Facing Women at WorkWomen’s Health Issues at Work: Reproductive for Health and The Effects of Workplace Hazards on Female Reproductive Health
Proposed Pregnancy Lifting Guidelines
How much can a healthy pregnant worker lift at work? NIOSH is working to address this question and has proposed clinical guidelines with provisional recommended weight limits. NIOSH expects that most pregnant workers with uncomplicated pregnancies would be able to perform lifts at those limits without increased risk of adverse maternal and fetal health consequences[ii]. The proposed guidelines should be useful to occupational health practitioners in the evaluation and redesign of lifting tasks and to clinicians in advising patients about manual lifting restrictions at work. The infographic below summarizes the guidelines. Click the image below for a full-size version.
Additionally, women are more likely than men to do contingent, part-time, temporary, or contract work. Compared to workers in traditional job arrangements, contingent workers have lower incomes and fewer benefits. Women who work in insecure jobs may fear that bringing up a safety issue could result in job loss or more difficult work situations. They may also be less likely to report a work-related injury.
[iii] and 12,340 new cases of cervical cancer[iv] are estimated to be diagnosed in 2013. Workplace exposures to hazardous substances may play a role in the development of these types of cancer. NIOSH is studying several hazardous substances to determine whether there is a link to cancers that affect women.
Industry-specific InformationWomen are present in all aspects of working America. The following industries employ large numbers of women and/or represent industries where NIOSH has conducted research specific to women. Click on the industry below to read more about the hazards facing women in these industries.
[v]. In agriculture, women can be exposed to pesticides and chemicals and may be at risk for traumatic injury, musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory disease.
bloodborne diseases and hazardous chemicals.
Women are an integral part of all aspects of the U.S. workforce and their participation will continue to grow. From 2008 to 2018, the women’s civilian labor force is projected to increase by 9.0 percent. The number of women aged 65 to 74 in the civilian labor force is projected to increase more than the number of women in any other age group—increasing by 89.8 percent[vi]. We may need to ask new questions such as are there different issues for older female workers than older male workers? As we think about women’s health this week and every week we must continue to consider the workplace in the overall health of women and continue to address the unique (and not so unique) safety and health issues facing women in the workplace.
Naomi Swanson,Ph.D.; Julie Tisdale-Pardi, MA; CAPT Leslie MacDonald, Sc.D.; Hope M. Tiesman, Ph.D.
Dr. Swanson is Chief of the Organizational Science and Human Factors Branch in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.
Ms. Tisdale-Pardi is the NIOSH Science Blog Coordinator.
Dr. MacDonald is a scientist officer in the U.S. Public Health Service and works in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies.
Dr. Tiesman is a research epidemiologist in the NIOSH Division of Safety Research.
References[i] BLS Reports Women in the Labor Force: A Databook, Report 1040, February 2013; URL www.bls.gov/cps/wlf-databook-2012.pdf
[ii]LA MacDonald, TR Waters, PG Napolitano, DE Goddard, M A Ryan, P Nielsen, SD. Hudock. Clinical guidelines for occupational lifting in pregnancy: evidence summary and provisional recommendations. Am J Obstet Gynecol, (March 2013). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2013.02.047
[v] BLS Reports Women in the Labor Force: A Databook, Report 1040, February 2013; www.bls.gov