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 multi-phase 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. 

Findings from Phase I research are now available: SHEWT Fact Sheet

 

ABOUT SHEWT

Study Overview

Safety and Health Empowerment for Women in Trades (SHEWT) is a multi-phase study aimed at reducing tradeswomen's risk of workplace health and safety hazards through research and program development. Construction workers experience many health and safety concerns including slips/trips/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, the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center, the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center, and the Washington State Building Trades Council's Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education (PACE) program.

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

Methods

Phase I: Research

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, on paper, and via phone interviews to approximately 300 tradeswomen and tradesmen throughout Washington State during the fall/winter of 2015 and spring of 2016. Three follow-up focus groups were held in May and June 2016 to interpret the survey findings and discuss potential programs to reduce workplace risk.

Read our Phase I Final Report to learn more about study methods and findings!

Phase II: Program Development

Based on the findings from Phase I, we are developing a pilot mentoring program to improve health and safety communication and compliance for women apprentices in western Washington by addressing their workplace stressors. We will train 15 journeywomen and journeymen in early 2017 to act as mentors for 45 female apprentices in the Puget Sound region. The program will be monitored and evaluated to assess its impact on apprentices' safety advocacy and behavior.

To learn more or to get involved in this program contact

Goals

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

Alice Lockridge, MS Phys Ed, Seattle City Light

Sarah Laslett, MA, University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center

Kelly Coogan-Gehr, PhD, Washington State Labor Education and Research Center

Diane Davies, Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council's Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education program

Lee Newgent, Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council's Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education program

 

 

Washington State Department Of Transportation photo

OTHER RESOURCES

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