Gender, musculoskeletal disorders and non-standard jobs
ETUI meeting room

This seminar is organised by the ‘Health, safety and working conditions’ unit of the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and the ‘Genre Activité Santé’ (GAS) group of the International Ergonomics Association (IAE).

Recent studies in Europe show that the gender division of work has not fundamentally changed in recent years. Women are generally confined to a certain number of sectors and to part-time work in order to be able to reconcile their jobs with their traditional role in the home. They are very present in jobs that are termed ‘atypical’ in relation to the employment ‘norm’ in more developed countries, i.e. full-time, under a permanent contract, in one single company. They are more often found working in short-term or interim posts, part-time, with irregular hours and sometimes multiple employers. These factors create specific constraints and pressures regarding pay, access to social rights (such as social security), and working conditions.

Occupational health data also shows that women in Europe generally suffer from poorer health and report more occupational illnesses than men. Notably, the issue of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affects mostly women. This is linked to the kinds of posts that they occupy, which expose them to risks in regard to biomechanical stress (repetitive work, carrying people, etc.), but also to the fact that they have very little room for manoeuvre and autonomy in their work, that they experience physical burdens in both their professional and (non-paid) domestic work, and that their physiology makes them more susceptible to developing certain pathologies (carpal tunnel syndrome, for example). They are also often exposed to biomechanical and psychosocial risks (PSRs), notably in the personal assistance, care and service professions.

In this seminar, we propose to discuss the results of recent studies on women’s working conditions in atypical work and on work-related MSDs, from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective and in consideration of the relationship with PSRs.

These results can give trade unions new arguments and means to help improve the working conditions of women in companies. Addressing gender issues in the area of occupational health and working conditions also brings to light hidden or poorly considered constraints and risk factors that also affect men. For trade unions, these topics thus make it possible to renew approaches and develop actions in favour of occupational health for both women and men.

Workshop topics

This seminar is the latest of a series organised by the ETUI that aim to take stock of the advances in the field of occupational health and safety from a gender perspective and explore possible areas of action.

The seminar is structured into three workshops:

  • Introductory Workshop 1: off-topic issues
  • Workshop 2: recent data and studies on work-related MSDs in women and their relationship to PSRs
  • Workshop 3: working conditions and women’s health in atypical work

The main objective of this seminar is to share knowledge and experiences concerning working conditions and women’s health. In addition to these work topics, the discussions will be geared towards exploring ways and means of transforming discriminatory work situations that are harmful to women’s health.


Seminar participants

A maximum of 45 participants in this seminar will ideally include a mix of trade unionists, researchers and other experts in the field of occupational health and safety (for example, occupational health physicians, psychologists, ergonomists, etc.) who are active on the gender issue, have an interest in the subject or wish to learn more about it.

Due to the limited number of places, we may have to make a selection of participants.

Working languages

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in English, French and Spanish.

Registration : closed