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ASSP proposes ways to bring more women into safety roles

Women in safety roles

Increasing the availability of personal protective equipment for women are among keys to bringing and advancing more women in safety roles in organizations, according to a report released Thursday by the American Society of Safety Professionals.

Other areas to focus include offering more advancement opportunities to women and reducing violence against women at work, according to the report, which the Park Ridge, Illinois-based organization says is a follow-up to its Women’s Workplace Safety Summit in October, which zeroed in on the overall lack of women in the safety field. 

Only 22% of safety professionals with safety designations are women, according to a 2018 survey that included 10,000 respondents and was funded by ASSP and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, the report highlights.

“Women make up nearly half of the global workforce and experience occupational risks differently than men,” ASSP President-Elect Diana Stegall said in a statement. “But safety interventions often take a one-size-fits-all approach. This report advocates for gender-specific solutions.”

Addressing the issue, the report narrowed its solutions to three:

  • Because the occupational safety and health profession has typically been male-dominated, women face barriers to entering and advancing in safety careers. Solutions to the problem include more recruitment and retention efforts, gaining an understanding of gender prejudices, more formalized mentorship and sponsorship programs, systemic safeguards that remove barriers and promote success, and the creation of an inclusive culture that incorporates differences rather than trying to mitigate them.
  • The lack of protective gear to accommodate women is a top concern that put women at higher risk for accidents. The report recommends that manufacturers gather more data in developing universal fit guidelines, provide ratings and reviews of protective work gear, and publish guidance materials for users.
  • The issue of violence in the workplace was also addressed, highlighting U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data that show homicides as the leading cause of workplace fatalities among women. In 2016, women represented 24% of all fatal occupational injuries to women, compared with 9% of fatal workplace injuries to men, according to the figures. Verbal abuse, physical attacks and sexual assault are additional concerns, according to the report, which suggests educating and training employees on the problems, evaluating building security procedures and providing a hotline so workers can easily report issues.







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