According to a 2013 United States Department of Labor (United States DOL) statistic, there are approximately 128 million women in the workplace. Fifty-seven percent of these women work full or part-time and are 16 years of age or older.
It is easy to see how gender changes the criteria for health and safety in the workplace. There are 10 leading causes of workplace injuries for the woman at work:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Back and neck injuries
- Injuries due to industrial, commercial, or office equipment
- Slips, trips, and other injuries due to falls
- Exposure to workplace chemicals
- Sexual harassment
- Industrial and commercial vehicle injuries to female drivers
- Workplace violence
The United States DOL reports that women are less likely than men to be subject to workplace injuries. Yet, the number of accidents attributed to women in the workplace is "disproportionately unique to female employees
1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This workplace injury occurs when the duties of a job require excessive use of fingers, hands, and arms in repetition, such as women who spend eight hours inputting data on computers.
It can also occur in women in manufacturing plants where assembly of small parts and equipment requires repetitive movement. This is one of the most common workplace injuries among women mainly due to the fact that these jobs are gender-based. This can be avoided by allowing female employees to take 15 minutes breaks from their work twice daily.
2. Back and Neck Injuries
Back and neck injuries go hand in hand with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Back and neck injuries among female employees in the workplace are a result of sitting or standing in one body position excessively during the course of duties.
3. Injuries Due to Industrial, Commercial, or Office Equipment
One of the most avoidable workplace injuries women may be subjected to are injuries due to industrial, commercial, or office equipment.
Women working in warehousing, for example, are often required to relocate large overhead boxes without safety ladders. In commercial facilities, like beauty salons, women are often injured by hair drying equipment and electric scissors that are old or in disrepair.
Office copiers, paper shredders, and most other cutting equipment are chief causes of injuries to women in offices. To avoid these injuries, business owners should regularly inspect equipment and replace or repair as needed.
4. Slips, Trips, and Other Injuries Due to Falls
The layout of the workplace often disregards clutter that cause slips, trips, and falls by women. For example, worn floor tiles and carpeting, coupled with narrow passageways between cubicles and desks, are potential causes of injury. Desks and cubicle floor arrangements should comply with local fire safety laws and also OSHA regulations to avoid liability and injuries.
5. Exposure to Workplace Chemicals
Due to strict OSHA regulations, chemicals used in manufacturing and industrial facilities require employers to provide protective glasses, gloves, lab and work coats, and booties. However, chemicals are used in small businesses like testing labs, engineering, and architectural companies. Exposure to noxious fumes is a source of injury to female employees.
There are many types of workplace stresses
that are unique to women in the workplace. Strict time constraints, gender bias, and unreasonable productivity expectations affect women more than men due to the fact that more women than men are caregivers to children and elderly parents. Some employers expect women to exceed productivity levels of male employees due to a general attitude of gender bias.
7. Sexual Harassment
Of the unique workplace injuries incurred in women, sexual harassment is one of the most frequent. Sexual harassment is a result of a lack of gender equality in the workplace. This happens most often when female employees are outnumbered 10 to one by male employees who resent the presence of females in their work environment.
Male employers often are guilty of sexual harassment of women in their businesses. Sexual harassment is a major cause of women suffering serious psychological and in certain cases, physical injuries.
8. Industrial and Commercial Vehicle Injuries to Female Drivers
Although female drivers are often ridiculed for their driving habits, the United States Department of Transportation reports otherwise: "For every year from 1975 to 2014
, the number of male crash deaths was more than twice the number of female crash deaths, but the gap has narrowed." Women experience vehicle injuries mainly when driving a company vehicle as part of their regular duties.
9. Workplace Violence
Violence in the workplace takes place more often among men with other male employees. The incidences of female vs. female violence in the workplace happen usually when women represent the total number of employees. Incidences of violence against women in the workplace that have been reported are usually due to disgruntled employees retaliating against the business or they are caused by former spouses and male friends.
Homicides of women in the workplace are usually the result of a lack of strict policies by the business or due to disgruntled employees who have been fired.
It is important for women to understand their legal rights regarding injury compensation and to engage a personal injury lawyer with a practice that focuses on the leading causes of workplace injuries of women.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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