Workplace Health and Safety for Women in the UK

Statistical reports published by the Trades Union Congress shows that about 13.5 million women work in the public and private sectors of the UK. Despite so many women in the UK workforce, the need for workplace health and safety for women is not appropriately addressed. There is a myth that men execute all the risky and challenging tasks, but when the females receive injuries at work; the incident is explained by gender differences and not by jobs. In reality, the women are more vulnerable to repetitive jobs and stressful conditions. Again, young ladies at work are more likely to undergo assaults at work than their male colleagues. The UK government should take initiatives to address the health and safety requirements of women at work.

Trades Union Congress’s View Regarding Health and Safety of Women at Work

Trades Union Congress, a representation of most of the trade unions in the UK, thinks that while framing laws or introducing workplace guidelines, measures need to be gender-sensitive. The lawmakers need to consider the physical and social differences that exist between men and women before drafting health and safety laws at work. The employers need to consider the health and safety of the female employees while charting health and safety plans, framing risk assessment plans and introducing new working systems.

Employers Should Ensure Health and Safety of the Pregnant Workers

Each year, about 350,000 pregnant continue their work, while 69 % of these workers resume work after giving birth. The business owners running their organization in the UK must ensure the health and safety of these women at work. No matter how important it is to take care of the pregnant women at work, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), the UK organization handling sex discrimination and promoting gender equality, recently claimed that most of the employers in the United Kingdom do not undertake risk assessments that are legally important for protecting the pregnant workers or the new mothers at work.  The Trades Union Congress asserts that the employers should live up to the legal obligations and safeguard the expectant mothers and the women employees who return to work after childbirth.

What Should an Employer Do If He Identifies Certain Foreseeable Risks to the New or Expectant Mothers After Risk Assessment?

If an employer finds certain unavoidable risks after conducting a risk assessment program, he should change the working conditions or alter the working hours of the pregnant workers or new mothers if they are found to be useful in avoiding the risks. If it is not possible to change the working conditions, the employer can provide the concerned workers with proper alternative jobs. If it is not possible, the employer can ask the concerned employees to go for full-paid leaves. The employers should make sure that the new mothers who are still breastfeeding are not subjected to risks that can affect their health and safety at work. When an employee informs her employer about her pregnancy in writing, the employer might ask her to produce a written proof of pregnancy from a licensed physician.