Why women need their own PPE

After surveying 3,000 Canadian women who use personal protective equipment (PPE) daily in their jobs, the Canadian Workplace Safety and Prevention Services found more than 80 per cent expressed that they have experienced issues with their equipment due to improper fit, uncomfortable wear, or inadequate selection.

This clearly indicates that PPE designed for men is not suitable for women in the workplace. While there are options for women out there, typically they are simply a smaller version of the men’s, in a different colour, rather than being designed to fit the size and shape of a woman’s face.

It’s not just about looks or comfort, either. 40 per cent of respondents reported experiencing accidents or injury because of the fit, citing burns, limited motion, getting caught on equipment or sharp objects (and more) as a result.

To compensate, many women skip wearing the PPE altogether (28 per cent) and 38 per cent have adapted their PPE using workarounds like elastics and safety pins to try and improve performance. Functional fit and comfort are the two things women are looking for to address their PPE needs.

This issue isn’t new, having been identified by researchers and worker advocates almost 50 years ago. The fact that women are unable to access properly-fitting PPE means that their job performance is being limited and their safety is being compromised. However, Canadian standards do not specifically dictate that PPE must fit the user properly.

Rather than simply scaling down men’s versions, the solution to this issue looks like developing PPE specifically designed to fit women. Researching what they need, identifying key differences in fit between women and men, and creating a broad size range will begin the process of offering choices that keep women comfortable and safe.

Although PPE is generally considered the last line of defence, it is widely used by employers to provide supplementary protection to workers. When it doesn’t fit properly or is uncomfortable, it hinders an employee’s ability to do her job. Women need PPE that is designed to fit them and address their needs, rather than relying on adapting designs created to fit men’s proportions.

This article is republished from Remi Network under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

Image by Dragen Zizec on Freepik.

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