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.
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.
"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)
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.
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.
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