Workplace Injuries

Understanding Gender Differences in Workplace Injuries

Oyebode Taiwo, M.D., MPH

Oyebode Taiwo, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Profsesor of Internal Medicine (Occupational and Environmental Medicine)

As women increasingly find employment in traditionally male-dominated heavy industries, Dr. Taiwo has sought to determine, confirm and understand the higher rates of injury found in female industrial workers when compared to their male counterparts. His work also is helping devise interventions to promote the health and safety of women in the industrial workforce. He has used current funding to conduct some of the first studies of injuries among women in heavy-industry jobs.

Highlighted Study Findings

Dr. Taiwo’s research showed that women employed in a sector of heavy industry, aluminum smelting, were getting hurt on the job more frequently and more seriously than men in the same jobs. In the initial phase of the funded study, he found that women were experiencing 60 percent more injuries compared to men performing the same work. In the more recent phase of his studies, he confirmed that women in heavy manufacturing jobs were injured more often and found that their injuries were more serious than those suffered by men in the same jobs. It was the first study to follow a large worker population of women and men in a single heavy manufacturing industry for the purpose of exploring whether a gender difference exists for workplace injuries. Importantly, the multi-national company that has cooperated with the research is using the information gained from the studies to improve on-the-job safety. In addition, Dr. Taiwo investigated adverse pregnancy outcomes among women who worked in a laboratory setting at an aluminum smelter and concluded that potential exposures to hazards in the workplace likely did not explain diverse birth defects. However, based on Dr. Taiwo’s work, the company operating the plant followed public health authorities’ precautions and now reassigns pregnant women from the laboratories to administrative duties for the duration of their pregnancies.