The national trade union centre in the UK (The TUC) has recently published a guide for union safety reps that highlights the necessity to take gender differences into account when identifying health and safety concerns at work.
The guide says that men and women have physical, physiological and psychological differences that can determine how risks affect them.
Additionally, the guide stresses that women are at particular risk of violence, harassment and bullying both in and outside the workplace.
Although men tend to be at greater risk of direct physical assault because they are more likely to be found in jobs such as security and the prison service, women are also found in many of the occupations with a high-risk of violence and threats of violence, working as social workers and health-care workers. In addition, women are also more likely than men to experience sexual harassment at work.
Also women’s more typical injuries and illnesses, such as work-related stress, musculoskeletal disorders and dermatitis, have received less attention.
The guide also points to gender difference in the experience of stress, where HSE figures suggests that almost half a million people suffer from it at any one time, but more than half are female.
The guide says this because women frequently work in professions that have a high risk of stress, such as health and social care, social work and education. It cites research showing that women’s stress levels are more likely to remain high after work, particularly if they have children at home.
What is more, the handbook provides a checklist for trade union representatives, including questions about whether sex and gender differences are taken into account in manual handling risk assessments.