Women suffering as a result of ‘male-friendly’ workstations

Women not only suffer more work-related health and safety problems than men;
research has shown that workplaces are actually designed to fit the average
male worker, rather than the average employee.

A European Union (EU) report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at
Work (EASHW), claims that female staff suffer more from work-related stress,
infectious diseases, upper limb disorders, skin diseases, asthma and allergies,
while men suffer more from accidents, back pain and hearing loss.

Examples of problems include a lack of consideration and facilities for
menstruating and pregnant women and the failure to consider the musculoskeletal
effect of workstations and tasks on women.

The report recommends gender-neutral occupational safety and health
policies, such as offering men more flexible hours, so they can help more with
domestic tasks when female workers are facing temporary increases in paid work

EASHW director Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, said: "Risk assessment and prevention
need to be more gender sensitive and in general take into consideration the
ever-increasing diversity of the European workforce."

The report has emerged at the same time as a Canadian study which shows that
companies with more women in senior management roles do better financially than
those with less gender diversity in their upper ranks.

The study by Catalyst Inc, for the Bank of Montreal, reviewed the
performance of 353 companies remaining in the Fortune 500 list of top US
companies for four of five years between 1996 and 2000.

Corporations with the highest representation of women in senior levels had a
35 per cent higher return on equity, and a 34 per cent higher total return to

Sectors with higher than average women’s representation were healthcare,
utilities, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and financial services.

Those with lower than average representation included information
technology, telecommunications services, energy, aerospace and defence.

By Keith Nuthall and Monica Dobie


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