United States: Women And Workplace Safety: A Closer Look At The Data

Last Updated: September 29 2017
Article by John F. Martin

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women are less likely than men to incur workplace injuries, but the injuries reported by women are disproportionately unique to female employees. In the following four questions and answers, we go behind the numbers to take a closer look at what the data means.  

Q: Have you found the results of this study—indicating that women are less likely to get injured on-the-job—to be true?

A: As a whole, women are less likely to incur workplace injuries than men. The BLS report notes the following with respect to fatal work injuries:

In 2015, 4,836 fatal work injuries were reported in the United States—4,492 men and 344 women. Transportation incidents were the leading cause for both women (45 percent) and men (42 percent). These include incidents on roadways and incidents involving aircraft, rail, and water transportation. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals caused 24 percent of fatal occupational injuries to women; the second most common cause of fatal work injuries to men was falls, slips, and trips (17 percent).

Q: What accounts for these disparities?

A: Some of the data may be explained by the kinds of jobs performed by men and women in the United States. The BLS publishes industry and occupational statistics every year that break down employed persons by sex, race, and ethnicity. There are certain industries (see chart 3 here), such as logging, construction, and structural iron and steelwork, to name a few, that have high fatality and injury rates every year. Women tend not to work in those industries. Women make up about 3 percent of loggers, 9 percent of construction workers, and 2 percent of iron and steelworkers.

On the other hand, women make up over 75 percent of the healthcare industry's workforce and 72 percent of "office and administrative support" occupations. The healthcare industry sees more than its fair share of injuries and workplace violence, though not "active shooter" violence, which is actually a small percentage of workplace violence incidents. Instead, think of patient-on-nurse violence—for example, the cranky, drugged-up patient in a hospital who stubbornly refuses to allow the nurse to check his blood pressure and hits her on the head. (Ask any nurse how often something like this happens.)

The high incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome affecting office and clerical workers—sitting at a desk and typing at a computer for 40 hours per week—is not surprising. Also unsurprising are musculoskeletal injuries for waitstaff, of whom 70 percent are female. Waitstaff lift heavy trays of food and drink, and may be on their feet for entire shifts.

Q: Besides musculoskeletal injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or back and neck injuries, what other types of injuries are commonly reported by female employees?

A: Workplace violence (such as patient-on-nurse violence in the healthcare field) is a category of injury that disproportionately affects women. Exposure to blood and blood-borne pathogens (due to needle sticks) in healthcare is an injury that tends to be more commonly reported by women than men, but again, women make up 75 percent of the healthcare industry's workforce. There are also injuries from machines in the manufacturing industry, such as hair getting caught in pinch points, but that is not unique to women (men get their hair or clothing caught, too). Most manufacturers require hair to be tied back or kept in a net.

It should also be noted that most Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations on the books address only protection from physical injuries, not mental injuries. It is possible that there are more anxiety and stress cases affecting men and women alike, but they are difficult for OSHA to enforce because of the difficulty in establishing the anxiety or stress is work-related. 

Q: What steps can employers take to prevent their employees—especially female employees—from getting injured while on the job?

A: This is not unique to women—one of the primary factors in workplace incidents is inattentiveness to risk for the sake of convenience. Have you ever stood on the top step of a ladder to change the batteries on a smoke alarm at home? Or have you ever hammered a nail without safety glasses on a DIY project? People fall into the "this will only take a second" or "I'm a careful person, I won't get hurt" mentality and ignore risk. The risk may be small, but the odds eventually catch up with someone. Ninety-nine out of 100 people may accomplish a task the unsafe way without incident, but for the 100th person the outcome can be catastrophic. Don't take that chance, even if the risk is small and it takes more time to do it the right way. Your life and well-being are worth it. At work, it is always worth the extra few minutes to review the safety rules and procedures for a task to refresh your memory and make sure you've covered your bases.

Second (and not unique to women): Get involved in your company's safety program. Read the safety handbook you received at orientation and adhere to it. Ask questions if you are not sure how to follow the rules set out by your company. Participate in safety meetings. Communicate with the in-house local safety personnel. Notify them of workplace conditions you think may be unsafe. If your company has a safety committee, read its minutes and keep yourself apprised of what the committee is doing.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions