A committee with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has suggested that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revise its 30-year-old construction sanitation standard to include, among other things, more ergonomics guidance for women.
According to the BLS, in 2001, approximately 94,000 women worked in the construction trade. An additional 29,000 women worked as construction laborers. Construction, with high forces such as lifting lumber, awkward postures, and unpredictable environment, has been recognized by many countries as having above average rates of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and poor ergonomics.
The BLS Advisory Construction Committee on Safety and Health found that women in the construction industry faced ergonomic concerns, and that those concerns were not adequately addressed in OSHA guidance documents. Other hazards that the committee found include, reproductive risks, lack of adequate sanitary facilities, ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing, and lack of safety training.
The committee suggested that OSHA create communication and guidance material on construction industry ergonomic concerns specific to women workers. It also suggested that OSHA revise its standards for PPE.
OSHA has stated that it has addressed all problems identified by the committee, however, due to restructuring and changes in the agency’s focus, no new regulations will be formed.