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WOMEN'S SAFETY AND HEALTH ISSUES AT WORK

five women standing side by side

Job Area: Manufacturing

Food, clothes, chemicals, furniture, oil and coal are just a few products processed by manufacturing workers. In 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated over five million women were working in manufacturing - three million of these were production jobs. With the wide range of products processed, women working in manufacturing may be at risk for exposure to hazardous chemicals, physical demands, loud equipment, and long work hours.

Related Resources

A randomized controlled trial evaluating the effects of new task chairs on shoulder and neck pain among sewing machine operators: the Los Angeles garment study
This study looked at the effect of chair design on neck/shoulder pain among sewing machine operators. The study found neck and shoulder pain among sewing machine operators could be reduced by using an adjustable height task chair with a curved seat pan.

Cancer and noncancer mortality among American seafood workers
The study examined the deaths of 4,116 seafood workers, most of whom worked in seafood processing plants. More than half (53%) of those who died were women. The study group had more deaths from stomach cancer and disorders of the thyroid gland compared to the general US population, but fewer deaths from breast cancer, stroke, and ischemic heart disease.

Earlier age at menopause, work, and tobacco smoke exposure  
Among women older than 25, earlier age at menopause was found among all smokers and among service and manufacturing industry sector workers. Women (particularly black women) age 25 to 50 had an increased risk of earlier age at menopause with both primary smoking and second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure. Control of SHS exposure in the workplace may decrease the risk of death and illness associated with earlier age at menopause in US women workers.

Mortality among a cohort of garment workers exposed to formaldehyde: an update
This study looked at workers from three garment plants to examine causes of death that may be related to working with formaldehyde. Researchers found a possible link between formaldehyde exposure and dying of myeloid leukemia.

Mortality of workers employed in shoe manufacturing: an update
This is an update to a previous study that looked at the possible link between cancer deaths and exposure to toluene in workers from two shoe manufacturing facilities. Results indicated a possible link between lung cancer death and repeated exposure to low levels of organic solvents.

Occupational exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and risk of breast cancer
The study involving women working in capacitor manufacturing facilities found no overall elevation in breast cancer risk. However, higher risk was observed among non-white workers.

Occupational lung cancer in US women, 1984-1998
The study of mortality data for more than 4 million women who died between 1984 and 1988 found that, with adjustments made for smoking, significant excess proportionate lung cancer death was found among US women working in the US manufacturing, transportation, retail trade, nursing/personal care, and agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.

Physical activity, physical exertion, and miscarriage risk in women textile workers in Shanghai, China
Compared with women working in sedentary jobs, a reduced risk of miscarriage was found for women working in jobs with either light or medium physical activity during the first pregnancy and over all pregnancies. Frequent crouching was associated with elevated risk. It was concluded that light/medium occupational physical activity may have reduced miscarriage risk, while specific occupational characteristics such as crouching may have increased risk in this group.

Polychlorinated biphenyls and neurodegenerative disease mortality in an occupational cohort
This study examined PCB-exposed workers employed at capacitor manufacturing plants that used PCBs. The study was done to determine whether death from certain neurological diseases was higher compared to the U.S. population. Researchers found women had a higher risk of death from certain neurodegenerative diseases (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson disease, and dementia).

 
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