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...Another hot issue for women in the building trades is chemical exposure. “Everybody is becoming more sensitized to chemicals because of the environment, the foods we’re eating, and other factors.” Stagno says that in addition to cancer, respiratory issues, and other health conditions, women also need to be concerned about reproductive hazards. One exposure that’s becoming more common is diesel particulates and fumes. These affect women more than in the past because women are more active in flagging and road construction work.
For many employers, ensuring that women are protected on the job is not a high priority, says Stagno. Having spent her share of time in manholes wielding heavy tools, Stagno is confident that women can do any job that needs to be done, but not necessarily in the same way men do it. “We may have to use ‘work-smarter, not harder’ techniques.”