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Women in Construction

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Overview

"While both men and women working in construction face many of the same risks, there are some unique issues that are of greater concern to women." (3)
male and female construction workers female construction worker with slow sign

The number of women employed in the U.S. construction industry grew substantially, by 81.3% from 1985 to 2007; however, due to a loss of over 2.5 million construction jobs from 2007 to 2010, there has been a sharp decline of women working.  As illustrated below in Table I (1), and since its peak in 2007, more than 300,000 women workers left the construction industry by 2010. While only 9% of U.S. construction workers are women, which is a relatively small percentage compared to other industries (see Table II (2) below), there were still over 800,000 women workers employed in construction (i.e., managerial, professional, administrative, and production employees) in 2010. Of those, approximately 200,000 were employed in production occupations, such as laborers, electricians, plumbers, etc.

Table I: Number of Women Workers in Construction, Selected Years, 1985-2010 (All types of employment)

Table I: Number of Women Workers in Construction, Selected Years, 1985-2010

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Table II: Percentage of Women Workers, by Industry in 2010 (All types of employment)

Table II: Percentage of Women Workers, by Industry in 2010

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In addition to the primary safety and health hazards faced by all construction workers, there are safety and health issues specific to female construction workers. These safety and health hazards in construction create barriers to women entering and remaining in this field.

How OSHA Can Help

Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. OSHA provides information, training, and assistance to workers and employers.

If you think your job is unsafe or you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). It's confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA may offer, visit OSHA's Workers' page.

OSHA will continue to conduct inspections in response to complaints and/or referrals. Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following the OSHA standards if there is a serious hazard. Employees can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or by printing out the complaint form and mailing or faxing the completed form to your local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by an employee are more likely to result in an inspection.

Personal Protective Equipment

Provides information about Personal Protective Equimpment for women in construction.

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Sanitary Facilities at the Construction Site

Provides information about access to sanitary facilities at construction sites.

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Additional Resources

Provides additional resources for women in construction.

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male and female construction workers female construction worker with slow sign

1 Source for Table I - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010 and Previous Years Current Population Survey. Calculations by CPWR Data Center. (CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, produced with support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, grant number OH009762). (April 2013). The Construction Chart Book, The U.S. Construction Industry and Its Workers, Chapter 20. (PDF)

2 Source for Table II - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010 Current Population Survey. Calculations by CPWR Data Center. (CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training, produced with support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, grant number OH009762). (April, 2013). The Construction Chart Book, The U.S. Construction Industry and Its Workers, Chapter 20. (PDF)

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April, 2012. Workplace Safety and Health Topics, Women's Safety and Health Issues at Work.

How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?

Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.

OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-Site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-Site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.

Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.

If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.

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