The Tradeswomen Heroes Awards program honors two apprentices and two journey-level workers in the United States and Canada that set an exemplary example both on and off the jobsite

In July 2022, yet another SMART sister earned recognition from North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) for her hard work and proven track record: Annet Del Rosario, a 20-year journeyworker out of SMART Local 206 (San Diego, California).  

“Her positive attitude and relentless work ethic are infectious to those around her, and I can’t think of anyone that deserves more accolades for everything she means to our local and those lucky enough to be around her,” said Local 206 in the NABTU press release announcing Annet’s NABTU Tradeswomen Heroes Award win. 

Annet joined Local 206 in March 2002, committing to the union’s five-year apprenticeship program in August 2003 and turning out as a journeyperson in 2008. Since then, she has worked in the field as well as the shop on the HVAC side; she’s also served several terms as a trustee and an e-board member, and in her current position, she is the shop foreman at Able H&A – the first female to fill each position in the local’s history. Annet’s tireless advocacy continues off the jobsite as well: She created and is president of Building Trades Sisters, an all-female union trades group in San Diego.  

“Annet is the shining example of what can be done when someone puts their mind to it,” the press release concluded. “She has always wanted to put in the work to receive the rewards.”  

SMART congratulates Sister Annet Del Rosario for this well-deserved recognition!  

In the last several years, an increase in HVAC, construction, ventilation verification and other work has led to a growth in continent-wide demand for the skills and expertise provided by SMART members. As the need for sheet metal workers has intensified, so too has the drive to recruit more women into the trade, and the 21st-century workforce looks more diverse than ever before. With this opportunity comes a similar sense of responsibility: the greater and more diverse our union and industry grow, the harder we must work to safeguard the well-being of every member of our union.

Health and safety concerns in construction and the trades affect both women and men, but some problems can have a greater impact on women. Interviews and focus groups of women construction workers conducted by Chicago Women in Trades and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health identified several recurring issues. As in other male-dominated fields, women in construction have reported facing a hostile workplace, sexual harassment, isolation and job insecurity. These stresses can add to the pressure already created by tight deadlines and complicated work.

Physical challenges and job site dynamics unique to women add to this disparity. Women are between two and five times more likely than men to experience upper body sprains and strains at work. Excessive lifting and repetitive motions are all known risk factors for back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, regardless of gender — and it’s important to remember that many things on a job site, from tools to protective equipment to portable toilets, have historically been designed for men’s bodies.

As we step into a bright future, it’s up to all of us, men and women, to help one another survive and thrive in the sheet metal industry. Among other things, that means:

  • Making sure all workers have access to tools and personal protective equipment at a jobsite, including respirators, fall protection harnesses, gloves and safety goggles that fit properly and comfortably.
  • Providing portable bathroom facilities on job sites that are safe and hygienic for any worker to use.

For guidance on navigating stress and work culture as a woman in the sheet metal industry, view the SMART Sister Tips from women working in locals all over the country, a series that kicked off Women in Construction Week earlier this spring.  

As always, the SMOHIT Helpline, 877-884-6227, is available 24/7, with a trained counselor ready to take your call if you are experiencing a crisis.