Workplaces across the United Kingdom have become more egalitarian. While gaps remain in the amount earned by men and women, these gaps have closed substantially over the last few decades.
Gender equality is at the heart of most policies and laws in the UK, which is evident in the number of women taking a bigger role in the workplace. Some are even taking on jobs traditionally associated with men, specifically in the construction sector.
Moves towards gender equality are welcome in the UK, but the trend has health and safety implications that some employers may be ignoring, according to EU-OSHA’s Prevention and Research Unit and according to World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Gender Equality, Work and Health: A Review of the Evidence.
What the EU-OSHA and WHO Says
According to Elke Schneider from EU-OSHA’s Prevention and Research Unit, limits regarding workplace chemical exposure are focused on jobs typically in the ‘male industry’ rather than those focusing on female-dominated workplaces. Hairdressers, for instance, are constantly in contact with harmful chemicals and are especially vulnerable to musculoskeletal disorders.
This is consistent with the data from the World Health Organisation, which says claims for workers’ compensation involving musculoskeletal disorders (which are common among women) are sometimes excluded from ‘the purview of the law or subjected to greater security than claims for injury attributable to accidents at work (which are more common among men)’. According to the data, this means that discrimination is still present even if the legislation appears to be gender neutral.
Workplace Accidents and Age
In addition, workplace accident rates decrease among men as they age—but the decrease does not happen with women. In fact, women have higher chances of being injured on the commute to and from work than men do.
Although women make up around half of the country’s workforce nowadays, accident at work compensation claims are generally made by men, since the policies support them. This should not be the case. Women, whether they are in a male or female-dominated industry, should not be reluctant to speak with a personal injury solicitor or raise safety issues with their employers.