- The Victorian Government in November 2009, released
A Right to Respect: Victoria's Plan to Prevent Violence against Women 2010 - 2020. A Right to Respect reflects the Government's commitment that all women have a right to live free from violence. The Plan is a coordinated, long-term and whole-of-community framework for action to change the culture in which violence occurs. It contains a comprehensive range of strategies to promote non-violence, gender equity and respectful relationships throughout the community – for example in homes, workplaces, sporting organisations and schools.
- The Multicultural Centre for Women's Health (MCWH) is a women's health organisation which is committed to improving the health of immigrant and refugee women around Australia. MCWH is for all women from immigrant communities, including refugee and asylum seekers and women from both emerging and established communities. The Centre provides national leadership and excellence in multilingual health education, advocacy, training, and research with specific expertise in sexual, reproductive, occupational, and mental health. It is located at Suite 207, Level 2; Carringbush Building, 134 Cambridge St,Collingwood Victoria 3066 Ph: 03 9418 0999
From the ILO:
A guide urging employers, unions, OHS managers and inspectors to ensure workplaces are as free as possible from reproductive health hazards for both men and women. The guidance sets out practical steps on how to protect the female worker and her child, if she is working during pregnancy, has recently given birth, is returning to work after pregnancy, or is breastfeeding on her return to work. Healthy beginnings: guidance on safe maternity at work. (121 page pdf)
a maternity protection database containing information on the principal legislative measures adopted in member states to protect the health and welfare of working women during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and to ensure that their employment is protected and that they are not subject to discrimination.
a resource guide on gender equality in the world of work. This guide provides gender equality information via links to ILO and other publications, statistics and ILO Conventions and Recommendations, as well as other resources around the world. The ILO, through the Bureau for Gender Equality, widely disseminates knowledge and practical information on gender equality through publications and other resources.
ILO resource guide - Gender equality in the world of work
Hazards - Women and Work Hazards website
Women and the menopause
The TUC, the UK’s peak union council has published new guidance on how employers and union reps can work together to support women through the menopause at work. Menopause is an important occupational health issue for the millions of women over the age of 50 currently in work, and employers need to recognise that women of menopausal age may need extra consideration, as changes during the menopause can affect how a woman does her work, and her relationship with her boss and colleagues. The publication, Supporting women through the menopause [pdf] is to assist union reps raise the issue of the menopause in workplaces, and ensure that employers are aware that poor working conditions can aggravate symptoms.
The guidance is drawn from the experience of UK union health and safety representatives and also important research ( Women’s Experience of Working through the Menopause [pdf]) published by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF) in conjunction with the University of Nottingham.
The report suggests:
- Employers should ensure that all line managers have been trained to know how the menopause can affect work and what adjustments may be necessary to support women who are experiencing the menopause.
- Employers can highlight the menopause so all staff know that the workplace has a positive attitude to the issue. Guidance on how to deal with the menopause should be freely available.
- Women should be given information of how they can get support for issues that arise as a result of the menopause. Some women will feel uncomfortable going to their line manager, especially if it is a man, and other options should be available through human resources, or a welfare officer.
- Sickness absence procedures should cater for menopause-related sickness absence.
- Working time arrangements should be flexible enough to ensure they meet the needs of menopausal women, who may require to leave work suddenly. They may also need more breaks during the day.
- Risk assessments should consider the specific needs of menopausal women and ensure that the working environment will not make their symptoms worse. Issues that need looking at include temperature and ventilation. The assessments should also address welfare issues such as toilet facilities and access to cold water.
UK's retail union Usdaw has published a pregnancy risks assessment checklist to provide advice on some of the more common factors that may cause a risk to pregnant women. Usdaw pregnancy risk assessment checklist
- The UK's HSE webpage on Health and safety for new and expectant mothers which has information, FAQs and case studies
- From NIOSH in the US, CDC Topic:
Women's Safety and Health Issues at Work
- European Agency for Safety and Health -
Women and health at work webpages. A recent publication (September 2011):
New risks and trends in the safety and health of women at work - A summary of an Agency report from the European Risk Observatory, can be downloaded from the Agency website. Previous research done by the Agency on gender issues at work found that inequality both inside and outside the workplace had an effect on the health and safety of women at work. This report adds more to the findings.
Working nights while pregnant increases the risk of giving birth prematurely by up to 50 per cent, according to a new study. University of North Carolina researchers looked at the working conditions of 1,900 pregnant women. Their findings, published in the December 2005 issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found standing for long periods and lifting heavy weights did not increase the risk of premature labour. But working nightshifts in the first three months was linked to a doubling in a woman's risk of early labour. The women, who were all interviewed in the seventh month of their pregnancy, were asked to report details about their jobs, such as how many hours per day they spent standing, and how many times per day they lifted an object that weighed 25 pounds (approx 11kg) or more. The 9.2 per cent of women (166) who worked nights were found to be at a 50 per cent increased risk of giving birth early. However, the researchers say the reason for the link is unclear, and they stress that relatively few women in the study actually worked nights, particularly as their pregnancy progressed. Dr Lisa Pompeii, who led the research, said: 'The findings from our study are based on a small sample size and need to be interpreted with caution... further studies need to be done to explore whether or how shift work influences uterine activity during pregnancy.'
Exposure to range of workplace risks in pregnancy can increase the likelihood of having an under-sized infant, according to a new report in the American Journal of Public Health. Irregular or shiftwork schedules are key problems. The researchers say eliminating these factors before the 24th week of pregnancy can bring the odds down to those of unexposed women. 'Small-for-gestational' (SGA) infants are at increased risk for a number of problems, including low levels of oxygen and blood sugar at birth. Dr Agathe Croteau, from Université Laval, Québec, Canada, and colleagues assessed the impact of occupational conditions on the risk of having an SGA infant by analysing data from 1,536 mothers with SGA babies and 4,441 mothers with normal babies. Factors that had a cumulative effect on risk included working night hours, irregular or shiftwork schedule, standing, lifting loads, noise, and high psychological demand coupled with low social support. Compared with the complete absence of these conditions, the risk of having an SGA infant ranged from 8 to 129 per cent when one to all six of these conditions was present. Preventive measures before the 24th week such as reassignment to a safer job or withdrawal from work largely eliminated the increased risk.
Source: Risks 257
'Safe' work solvent levels may affect IQ of foetus
Children born to mothers exposed to solvents in the workplace appear to have significant developmental problems as a result, according to new research. Canadian researchers found the children had lower IQs, poorer language and memory skills, and were inattentive and hyperactive. 'It does seem that organic solvents do affect brain development when exposure occurs in pregnancy, which means women should do everything possible to minimize such exposure,' said Gideon Koren, director of the Motherisk programme at the Hospital for Sick Children and the lead investigator. The research, published in the medical journal
Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, looked at women from 17 different occupations, including painter, science teacher, photo lab worker, graphic designer, electrical company workers and embalmer. While the differences were 'subtle,' the researchers said the study was important because it was the first to document possible harm to a foetus from exposure to organic solvents, suggesting that workplace exposure limits were not good enough. 'The adult may be okay, but the unborn's brain is much more sensitive. It's still developing,' said Dr Koren, 'The baby needs his own guidelines.'
Gideon Koren and others. Child neurodevelopmental outcome and maternal occupational exposure to solvents. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, abstract