- Certain safety issues disproportionately impact women, especially nonfatal workplace violence, according to a new National Safety Council (NSC) report. The NSC reports 70% of all assaults and related injuries that involved days away from work happened to women. In 2017, 12,820 women experienced assault-related injuries at work — a 60% increase from 2011 — compared to 5,530 assault-related injuries against men in the same year.
- The report revealed that women disproportionately face other work-related injuries and illnesses such as accidental injuries caused by another person, falls and ergonomic-related health problems, like injuries from repeated-motions. According to the report, women also experienced higher rates of injuries and illnesses in the management, business and finance, education and healthcare industries.
- In commemoration of Women's History Month, the NSC advises employers to examine their track records on safety involving women and ensure their Employee Assistance Programs are ready to provide support.
Nick Smith, the NSC's interim president and CEO, said in a statement that workplaces should be safe havens for everyone, and that data shows that more can be done to protect women at work. HR should be proactive about creating a workplace culture that does not tolerate harassment or assault and hears out women — and all employees — when they claim they've experienced harassment or assault. Especially in light of the #MeToo movement, HR should consider training to help reduce this type of behavior, which disproportionately impacts women.
Some employers have actively reduced the risks of injuries, accidents and fatalities in the workplace for all workers. Tyson Foods is using virtual reality to train staff in the safe and proper handling of food and equipment. In 2017, Tyson was able to exceed its goal of a 15% reduction and reduce its workplace injuries and illnesses by more than 20%, compared to the previous year. Well-being programs are another solution HR could consider to improve the overall health of the workforce and reduce stress.
Besides injuries and illnesses, which the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration monitors, employers must consider safety compliance issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act as they apply to workers' pay. Employers might do well to remember the law is especially critical during winter-storm season, when injuries from accidents can occur and businesses are sometimes forced to close early or shut down.