Women and Occupational Health Conference
Publisher: Marily Keddy and Eleanor MacLean
Year Published: 1981
Pages: 30pp Resource Type: Organization
Cx Number: CX2307
In October, 1980, 120 women gathered to discuss their common concern for the health of women in the workplace.
In October, 1980, 120 women gathered to discuss their common concern for the health of women in the workplace. This report provides a record of the address, panels and workshops of the event. A variety of women attended the conference including fish plant workers, teachers, clerks, and librarians, to discuss health issues relating to their work.
The group was addressed by Dr. Jeanne Stellman of the Women's Occupational Health Resource Centre in New York. She saw a need to focus specifically of women's occupational health issues because women do different work than men as nurses, secretaries, household cleaners and textile workers. To date, there have been few studies of the health risks of these types of work.
In another part of her address, Dr. Stellman pointed to stress as a major health hazard for working women. Since most women continue to also do the majority of the work in the home, the stress from the job is compounded. A U.S. study has recently discovered that the highest risk for heart disease among all workers is for secretaries and clerical workers with unsupportive bosses and three children at home. Dr. Stellman's New York based resource centre is gathering this kind of documentation on health risks, to support the growing number of claims against firms unconcerned with these issues.
The panels and workshops focused on the situation in the Maritimes and the experiences of the participants in the conference. In the panels, it was noted that both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had "almost no legislative protection for the workforce" on health concerns Thus, one panel member proposed that health and safety clauses be an essential part of union contracts in those provinces. Another panel member told the story of the wives' organization in the Baie Verte, Newfoundland asbestos mine strike, and another told of the massive growth in the number of women in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
In the workshops, participants listed their health concerns in their own jobs. Stress and the poor quality of their environment were often listed as concerns. Imposed production quotas was a major concern for the women in fish packing plants.
This organization no longer exists.