A recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that women are less likely than men to be hurt or killed in the workplace. In 2015, 5,000 male workers died as a result of workplace accidents compared to 350 female workers. The studies also show that there is a difference in the types of accidents most commonly reported by each sex.
Researchers have suggested different reasons why there is such a disparity in the number of reported injuries and workers’ compensation claims between men and women. Is it because of the different hazards presented in traditionally male-dominated occupations such as construction versus female-dominated occupations? Is it simply because workplace injuries and illness have not been well-documented for female workers? This article discusses a few of the theories, and why the types of commonly reported injuries seem to differ so dramatically.
Disparities in Workers’ Comp Claims
National injury and fatality data show that men are more likely to be injured or killed at work than women. This may be explained by the dangers posed by traditionally male-oriented occupations in industries such as construction, oil and gas extraction, structural steel production, commercial fishing, and logging. All of these industries have comparatively high injury and fatality rates compared to other industries.
By comparison, women make up over 75% of the workforce in the healthcare industry, 72% of office jobs, and 70% of service jobs. Because of the different job requirements in these industries, there is also a difference in the types of injuries most commonly reported by each sex. For example, office workers who work at desks in front of computers for most of the day commonly report injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Female employees more commonly reported burns, sprains, and fractures than male employees, according to the analysis of worker’s compensation claims.
Factors such as age and length of employment can also explain the difference in injuries between men and women. This is especially evident for those who work in heavy manufacturing. The risk factors associated with injuries in the blue-collar workforce have shown that injured female workers in the manufacturing industry were younger than their male counterparts, on average. Because of the male workers’ ages, the injuries were often more serious and required a longer recovery time before they were able to return to work.
Most of the regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) address protection from physical injuries, but they do not mention any injuries stemming from mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or stress. These symptoms are difficult for OSHA to track because it is hard to determine that stress, depression, and anxiety are strictly related to work duties.
The Likelihood of Future Workers’ Compensation Claims
A study conducted by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found
that if a worker had filed a prior workers’ compensation claim, it increased the odds that the worker (whether male or female) would file another claim in the future.
There are other gender-related factors associated with the filing of workers’ compensation claims.
For instance, the combination of past claims and certain behavioral risk factors such as depression, headaches, and poor sleeping habits resulted in increased likelihood of future claims for female workers. This does not appear to be the case with male workers. The researchers determined that the gender difference could be because men are more likely to work through an injury or pain, while women tend to seek medical treatment right away if they are injured.
In a Colorado Health Risk Assessment study, researchers observed that some health conditions and work duties were not associated with the likelihood of a future claim for either women or men. For example, both female and male workers with a past claim and certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and/or high cholesterol were less likely to file a future workers’ compensation claim.
What Employees Should Do to Prevent Workplace Injuries
One of the major factors in workplace injuries is not paying attention to the task at hand, which can lead to a serious injury. When people routinely complete their tasks in an unsafe manner, there’s always a chance that an accident could occur. It’s important for employers to provide proper safety training and for workers to take the time needed to perform their duties correctly and in accordance with the proper safety protocols for their own well-being.
All employees—men and women—need to be aware of their company’s safety guidelines. All workers should follow safety procedures and guidelines outlined in their employee handbook. If you have questions about protocols and practices, you need to ask the appropriate supervisor for help.
Employees should participate in safety meetings and alert supervisors to any unsafe working conditions that they notice. If the company has a safety committee, it is important to participate, read the meeting minutes, and keep up with current company policies.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Help
The dedicated Oklahoma workers’ compensation lawyers at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons assist injured employees with their workers’ compensation claims. Our attorneys will guide you through Oklahoma’s complex and confusing workers’ compensation system to help you seek fair and just compensation for your on-the-job injuries and to appeal claims that have been denied.
We have more than 30 years of experience protecting the rights of working people who were injured on the job and the families of victims who lost their lives in workplace accidents.
We give all of our clients the one-on-one attention that they need.
Our legal team is available to answer all your questions in a free initial consultation, and we only collect a fee if we win your case for you. Contact us today at (800) 725-2222 to speak directly with a knowledgeable member of our team.