Male injuries and deaths at work - An XY collection

Most occupational injuries, and the great majority of occupational deaths, are among men. In Australia, males comprise 96% of workplace fatalities (Safe Work Australia 2015), and 61% of workplace injuries or illnesses (ABS 2014).

Men's occupational deaths and injuries are shaped by masculinity - by traditional masculine norms of risk-taking, stoicism, independence, and so on. In this XY collection, we feature key research articles on this area.

Masculinity shapes men’s occupational deaths and injuries, as Stergiou-Kita et al. (2015) summarise:

  • Masculine ideals of toughness, strength, and risk-taking have been identified among men in a wide variety of occupations.
  • Men in male-dominated occupations often are socialised to accept risks, dangers, and injuries, and these also be normalised by the workplace or institutional culture.
  • Men in male-dominated workplaces and hazardous occupations often are expected to endure pain and injuries without complaint.
  • Men have been socialised to show self-reliance, be the family breadwinner, and resist authority. And in turn, to avoid seeking help or appearing weak.
  • Labour market forces, productivity pressures, and profit are prioritised over occupational health and safety (Stergiou-Kita, Mansfield et al. 2015).

Other studies shed further light on the relationships between traditional masculinity and men’s deaths and injuries at work:

  • In a study in two male-dominated workplaces, men who agreed with traditional masculine norms were more likely than other men to violate safety procedures and to not report safety problems to supervisors (Nielsen, Hansen et al. 2015).
    • This study also tested for the influence of workers’ own masculinity. Findings depended on the trait. Men were more likely to report safety oversights if they had some masculine traits such as assertiveness and leadership qualities, but less likely if they had other masculine traits such as being athletic, risk-taking and dominating.
  • Is it the kinds of dangerous jobs and industries in which men work compared to women?
    • One study finds that, even when women and men are working in the same occupations and industries, men have higher rates of fatality (Bauerle, McGonagle et al. 2016). As the conclusion states, “men appear to be at increased risk for occupational fatalities when compared to women in the same occupations, and that this may be especially true for men in traditionally feminine jobs” (113).
    • On the other hand, a study of injuries, comparing men and women in the same (dangerous) occupation, aluminium manufacturing, found that women had higher rates of injuries requiring first aid, medical treatment and work restriction than males (Tessier-Sherman, Cantley et al. 2014).
  • Masculine norms (e.g. about being a ‘tough’ worker) also influence men’s decisions about returning to work. They return ‘too early’, don’t report safety issues and accidents, don’t disclose post-injury challenges, and don’t ask for workplace support (Stergiou-Kita, Mansfield et al. 2016).

Please see below for the articles, in PDF.