Workplace Safety For Women
When PPE doesn’t fit correctly, it can be just as dangerous as not wearing any protection. A problem that is particularly challenging for women, who historically have had limited access to PPE designed to fit their body type.
Ill-fitting PPE can lead to reduced protection against workplace hazards. If the PPE does not fit the body correctly it can expose workers to risks such as chemical splashes, sharp objects or debris. Improper fit can hinder movement and cause discomfort, leading to distractions and reduced efficiency. What’s more, oversized PPE runs the risk of becoming entangled in machinery, resulting in severe injuries that can be fatal.
Historically, PPE has been designed with male body shapes and sizes as the standard, resulting in limited options for women. Consequently, due to the limited offerings of women’s PPE, women may feel pressured to choose between oversized men’s PPE or undersized options that fail to provide adequate protection.
When it comes to PPE designed specifically for women, options may be limited to less-than-ideal approaches, such as simple size reduction and additions of more “feminine” colors. Unfortunately, this strategy often fails to consider the unique physical characteristics of women, let alone optimizing their safety, resulting in discomfort and increased risk of injury on the jobsite.
How can companies address this issue?
Companies can help address this issue by conducting a thorough hazard assessment to identify their employees’ specific risks and hazards and selecting PPE accordingly. By considering the needs of all workers, including women, employers can ensure everyone has access to properly fitting PPE.
Employers need to drop the one-size-fits-all mentality and start stocking various sizes and cuts of PPE. By including options designed specifically for women, companies make it easier for female employees to find the protection they need to be safe and performing at their best.
Another critical step companies should take is involving workers in the PPE selection process is. By seeking employee input and considering their preferences and comfort, employers can better understand the unique needs of all employee body types and address any concerns.