Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O'Neil, LLC
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Challenges facing women in construction

Illinois women working in the construction business face many of the same challenges as their male peers when it comes to safety in the workplace. However, there are some difficulties that are unique to women construction workers that put them at risk for suffering a workplace accident.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are approximately 800,000 women working in construction-related jobs. This accounts for about nine percent of the total construction workforce. Because women make up such a small proportion of construction workers, historically not a lot of thought has been put into how worksites and equipment are suited for female employees.

For instance, the majority of construction tools and equipment are designed with male users in mind. Women have smaller hands than men and often receive less training on the proper use of tools, according to Construction Executive Magazine. In addition, most construction clothing and personal protective equipment are designed for male bodies. Smaller women who wear boots, gloves and other articles of clothing that do not fit them properly are at a greater risk of getting hurt.

In addition, construction sites often lack bathroom facilities that offer women a sanitary or private environment. As a result, women construction workers may suffer from bladder problems such as urinary tract infections. Finally, because the majority of worksites are populated by men, women are often subjected to hostile behavior such as sexual harassment, gender discrimination or threats of violence. Such actions on the part of their male colleagues can cause distraction to women and increase their stress levels, which in turn can lead to workplace injuries.

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