Women and safety and health at work

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Men and women are not the same biologically (sex differences) and the jobs they do, their working conditions and how they are treated by society are not the same.

There are differences that affect the risks that men and women face. Women:

  • Work in specific sectors and specific types of work
  • Balance dual responsibilities at work and home
  • Are underrepresented at supervisor and management level
  • Are physically different to men, although there is often more variation between women than between men and women, for example, in physical strength.
  • Do jobs that are often wrongly assumed to be safe and easy

Often these differences are not recognised in safety and health practice. What’s more, workload and stress-related risks to women in the workplace are often underestimated.

A gender-sensitive approach to OSH means recognising and taking account of the differences between male and female workers.

Employers can:

  • Aim to make work safer and easier for everyone
  • Include gender issues in risk assessment
  • Look at the real work done and avoid assumptions about who is at risk and why
  • Offer flexibility in working hours
  • Involve women in OSH decision-making

This approach is beneficial for all employees, not just women.

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