Safety and Health Empowerment for Women in Trades

Washington State Department Of Transportation photo

Welcome to SHEWT!

SHEWT (Safety and Health Empowerment for Women in Trades) is a study of the effects of working in the construction industry on the health and safety of women. It is being carried out by researchers at the University of Washington in collaboration with community groups serving tradeswomen in Washington State. 

The survey is now closed. Thank you to all of our participants! Results will be posted once the data have been analyzed.



Study Overview

Safety and Health Empowerment for Women in Trades (SHEWT) is a research study aimed at identifying and understanding the risks that women working in construction face on the job. Construction workers experience many health and safety concerns including falls, being struck by/against machinery, musculoskeletal disorders, and chronic health hazards from contaminants. Women workers face additional gender-specific hazards such as inadequate physical protection, unsanitary facilities, and stress from discrimination and harassment. As opportunities for women in the trades continue to grow in the Pacific Northwest, better understanding of tradeswomen's unique exposure to workplace hazards is needed.

SHEWT is a collaboration between the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and community partners Washington Women in Trades and the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center.

Funding and support for this project has been provided by the State of Washington, Department of Labor and Industries, Safety and Health Investment Projects.

Female linemen 2Photo by Matt Hins


During March and April 2015, we conducted four focus groups in western and eastern Washington with women and men working in construction trades. These groups discussed physical and psychosocial risks that specifically affect women at work, as well as programs to address these hazards. Based on findings from the focus groups, we developed a detailed questionnaire to more fully assess workplace risks. The questionnaire was administered online and via phone interviews to approximately 300 tradeswomen and tradesmen throughout Washington State during the fall/winter of 2015 and spring of 2016. Follow-up focus groups will be held in May/June 2016 to interpret the survey findings and discuss potential programs to reduce workplace risks.


SHEWT is dedicated to supporting worker health and safety. By identifying the primary work-related health and safety risks to tradeswomen, this study will help inform intervention strategies to address this population’s health challenges. 

Advisory Committee

Noah Seixas, PhD, UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Nancy Simcox, MS, UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Hendrika Meischke, PhD, UW Department of Health Services

Bert Stover, PhD, UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Hannah Curtis, MPH, UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Jo Scherer, Washington Women in Trades

Cindy Payne, Washington Women in Trades

Sarah Laslett, MA, Washington State Labor Education and Research Center

Alice Lockridge, MS Phys Ed, Seattle City Light

Betsy Shedd, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302



Why take the survey?

Not much is known about the daily experience of women working in construction as it relates to their personal health and safety. As an under-represented group, tradeswomen may face unique risks—including inappropriate protective equipment, discrimination, and isolation—which can negatively affect their well-being. Only by having tradeswomen share their experience can we learn about these risks and work towards solutions that will increase women’s participation and safety in the industry.

Am I eligible?

We want to hear from women and men who are currently working in any of the building and construction trades in Washington State. This includes both apprentices and journey-level workers. Participants must be over age 18 and able to read English.

If you are a woman who used to work in the trades but has left permanently, we have an alternative one-question survey you can take. Just click the main survey link and you will be redirected following the screening questions.

Why should men take the survey?

Many workplace hazards that affect women also affect men and we want to make construction a safer place for all workers. By taking the survey, tradesmen also allow us to compare exposure to workplace hazards between the genders.

What would I have to do?

After reading and signing your informed consent you will take a one-time survey, which collects information on your trade, training, general health, and exposure to occupational and stress-related hazards at work. The survey takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and all data are confidential. Participating in this study is completely voluntary. You will receive a $20 gift card as a thank you for completing the survey.

The survey can be completed online, through the mail, or over the phone with an interviewer. To have a hardcopy of the survey sent to you, please email your mailing address to the study's Research Coordinator at . A pre-paid return envelope will be included with the mailed survey. If you would like to take the survey over the phone, please email to set up a time to be contacted by an interviewer.

After receiving a large amount of corrupt data on November 10-12, 2015, we were forced to update our security settings. This caused the online survey to change formats and require participants to answer a set of screening questions to determine their eligibility. The gift card was mailed to a physical mailing address instead of to an email address. Surveys taken on November 10th, 11th, and 12th were not included in our study in order to protect the integrity of the data and ensure that they accurately represent the experiences of tradeswomen working in Washington State.

The survey is now closed

Thank you for your participation!


Washington State Department Of Transportation photo


Center for Construction Research and Training

Construction Center of Excellence

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA report "Women in the Construction Workplace: Providing Equitable Safety and Health Protection"

Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.

UMASS Boston Labor Research Center report “Unfinished Business”

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Washington State Labor Education and Research Center

Washington Women in Trades

Women Building Conference