Between the years 2009 and 2014, male workers in the UK were on average 20.75 times more likely than their female counterparts to suffer a fatality at work. This is despite the fact women currently make up 47% of the UK workforce.
The most recent data for the years 2013/14 indicate that a total of 85 men died whilst at work, compared to the total female death toll of four. Of these, 42 deaths were related to construction. Fatal falls, which again were most prevalent in the construction industry, accounted for three in every ten worker deaths.
A full illustration of the year on year comparative data between the genders can be found here. This infographic shows the prevalence of male mortality rates in the UK workforce compared to females, per average 100,000 workers.
The large gender divide in fatality rates is thought to be due to occupational segregation, as women are still less likely to be involved in industries where risk of injury and fatalities is high. This is despite pushes from organisations such as The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to encourage females to enter construction and other male-dominated trades.
Bryan Richards, of health and safety consultancy Arinite, suggests, “despite the push for equality in risk-heavy industries such as construction, hazardous procedures are still generally undertaken by men.”
Though thankfully fatality rates in the construction industry have continued to fall, it is still the most dangerous industry for UK workers, accounting for more fatalities than manufacturing and agriculture.
The high number of industry fatalities may itself be a contributing factor for women failing to enter the industry, along with the atmosphere on site. Previous construction worker Daniel Long suggests “it would be difficult for a woman to enter the industry because it’s a male dominated environment, and she would struggle to gain respect. Other builders wouldn’t want her carrying heavy concrete blocks, for example.”
Richards suggests that the most crucial step for the construction industry in improving fatality rates and creating a more positive public image would be to “provide training so workers appreciate the hazards of falling, provide fall arrest equipment and provide protective measures such as guards and netting.”