According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,836 workplace fatalities in 2015 – only 344 of these fatalities were women.
Why do women account for only 7 percent of workplace fatalities? The key lies in the type of work each gender performs, as well as the common dangers encountered in those jobs.
Men and women are in different fields of work
When you think about the nation’s most dangerous jobs, you might think about logging, construction or steelworking. These industries are predominantly male, with women making up less than 10 percent (sometimes less than 5 percent) of the workforce.
Women do make up the majority of one of the country’s most dangerous occupations: nursing. Along with office work, jobs in the healthcare field are disproportionally worked by women. This difference in jobs accounts largely for the discrepancy in work injuries and fatalities, and greatly affects the types of injuries sustained.
Women experience unique forms of workplace injuries
The most common cause of workplace fatality is transportation related – so it’s no wonder why men dominate the numbers. Occupations in the health care field, or in an office environment, rarely involve travel, shielding women in these fields from the dangers of on-the-job car or trucking accidents.
However, jobs in these fields do cause unique work injuries that women sustain that many men do not. Workplace violence disproportionally affects women, especially in the nursing field where patient-on-nurse violence is prevalent.
Women also frequently suffer from repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome from working on an office computer, or musculoskeletal injuries from lifting heavy objects around the workplace.
So while women are less likely to die from a workplace accident, they should be more aware of the types of injuries they may sustain. Both men and women need to take the proper measures to stay safe on the job – including following any special safety procedures set out by the company. And when you are injured, notify your manager immediately so you can receive adequate care.