Women now outnumber men in Canada’s national workforce. But, when it comes to construction and mining it is still predominantly male, even though women recruits are on the rise.
The Canadian Construction Sector Council predicts that between 2011 and 2019, Canada’s construction industry will face a shortfall of skilled workers and will need to recruit 320,000 new workers. To meet this demand, one of the main focuses is on recruiting women.
The responsibility to ensure that worksites are safe for men and women falls on the shoulders of management. Sadly, many of the resources management relies on include safety data that is biased, under represents women and ignores that women’s workplace experiences are significantly different from that of men – physically, biologically and socially.
Creating a work safe environment for women starts with strong leadership by employers and management. Without a solid infrastructure to support communication and teamwork, women are more likely to experience harassment, may choose to not report hazards for fear of bullying and may not ask for help in fear of appearing “weak.”
A lack of onsite washroom facilities is an issue recognized by the United Steelworkers Union. Women who work with hazardous chemicals often have nowhere to remove dangerous chemical residue or discard soiled clothes, needlessly putting female workers at higher risk.
Identifying and mitigating most hazards are second nature to managers and seasoned workers. The next step is knowing whether the hazards affect female workers differently than males and ensuring everyone is trained and protected.
Some great resources to get you started:
- Ministry of Labour. They have tips on increasing awareness and direction about ministry expectations for companies. http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/ University of British Columbia has produced their annual report “Partnership for Work Health and Safety”. Using data from WorkSafeBC, the report examines the relationship between work-related injury and sex and gender. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038750
- Women Building Futures is an Alberta-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to training women and serving as a resource for employers. WBF supplies skilled female labourers and employer workshops focusing on best practices. http://www.womenbuildingfutures.com/
- For more information on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that fits the needs of your diverse workforce, Seton.ca can help you. Please contact Marie-Claude Beaudry @ email@example.com or call 1-800-891-5716 ext. 2351