Wednesday, August 26 | 2:00 PM

Diane S. Rohlman, PhD
Professor, College of Public Health, University of Iowa
Director, Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest

Women currently comprise nearly half the labor force. Primarily employed in technical, sales and administrative support; women are underrepresented in construction and manufacturing. Workplace hazards are the same for both men and women but appropriate protection and prevention measures may vary. Recognizing the impact of work organization and environment on safety and health can protect all workers and promote wellbeing. Personal protective equipment (PPE), machinery, tools, and workstations often have a “one size fits all” design and do not consider body size or fit which can vary significantly between workers.

Stress associated with work is a growing concern for all workers, particularly women. More than half of working women report stress as their top concern at work. Stressors include job demands, harassment, and tension between work and family responsibilities. Absenteeism, presenteeism, and productivity are impacted by stress and often there are no policies or procedures in place to address these concerns. One unique area of concern that may be overlooked in the workplace is women’s reproductive health. Workplace exposures to chemicals, physical agents, and repetitive tasks can cause short and long-term impacts on both the developing child and mother.

In this session we will discuss how to evaluate the work environment, assess current policies and data (e.g., absenteeism, injury data), define the benefits of utilizing a participatory approach that engages workers across the organization, and identify programs and policies to prevent injury and illness.