Ramazzini; Blog on work and health by Annet Lenderink

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Higher injury risk in female health care workers

nurseTo determine whether female healthcare workers are at higher risk of occupational injury researchers compared compensated work-related injuries among females to injuries among their male colleagues in the British Columbia healthcare sector. It turned out that female workers had significantly higher risk of all injuries [rate ratio (95% CI) = 1.58 (1.24–2.01)] and MSIs [1.43 (1.11–1.85)] compared to their male colleagues.

Differences in injury outcome by gender can be due to various physical, environmental and social factors. Anthropometrically, women are different than men and it has been suggested that even the same exposure or material load may apply greater strain on the average woman than on the average man. Men tend to have more physically strenuous tasks and women more repetitive tasks, which ultimately result in different types of strain.

In addition, gender differences in learning, socialization and upbringing may be contributing factors to variations in workers’ perception of injury risk and their predisposition to claim workers’ compensation or sick leave or to seek healthcare services.

Are female healthcare workers at higher risk of occupational injury? Hasanat Alamgir, Shicheng Yu, Sharla Drebit, Catherine Fast and Catherine Kidd; Occupational Medicine 2009 59(3):149-152

Background:
Differential risks of occupational injuries by gender have been examined across various industries. With the number of employees in healthcare rising and an overwhelming proportion of this workforce being female, it is important to address this issue in this growing sector.

Aims:
To determine whether compensated work-related injuries among females are higher than their male colleagues in the British Columbia healthcare sector.

Methods:
Incidents of occupational injury resulting in compensated days lost from work over a 1-year period for all healthcare workers were extracted from a standardized operational database and the numbers of productive hours were obtained from payroll data. Injuries were grouped into all injuries and musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs). Detailed analysis was conducted using Poisson regression modelling.

Results:
A total of 42 332 employees were included in the study of whom 11% were male and 89% female. When adjusted for age, occupation, sub-sector, employment category, health region and facility, female workers had significantly higher risk of all injuries [rate ratio (95% CI) = 1.58 (1.24–2.01)] and MSIs [1.43 (1.11–1.85)] compared to their male colleagues.

Conclusions:
Occupational health and safety initiatives should be gender sensitive and developed accordingly.

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