Form-fitting PPE seeks solution for women in the construction workforce

Though, it is not yet required to provide construction workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) that fits properly, there are changes being made by employers to improve safety hazards in their workplace. These changes are specifically being made to accommodate women in the construction industry, considering the difference in height, weight, and body structure from men. The PPE program acknowledges these differences and considerations by implementing resources for employers.

When it comes to safety equipment, the one size fits all rule, isn’t quite true anymore. With more women entering the manufacturing workforce, personal protective equipment is tailoring women. Safety equipment is becoming more and more equipped for women considering the portion they cover in the manufacturing workforce now.

There can be risks to women wearing PPE that are designed for men, and that is a primary reason for manufacturers focusing on a new design for women. Safety product companies are revising their standard protection equipment and considering the one size fits all factor. More and more, manufacturers are pushing to innovate as well as make the workplace safe for males and females by implementing appropriate attire for women.

The Center for Construction Research and Training, also known as CPWR, is, according to their websites, an organization that is “dedicated to reducing occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the construction industry. Through research, training, and service programs, [they] serve the industry in cooperation with key federal and construction industry partners nationwide.”

According to research compiled by CPWR in 2015, women made up 2.2 percent of the occupancy in the construction industry.

Challenges that women face in the construction workforce is that PPE does not fit appropriately on women. If equipment does not fit properly, it can become hazardous and can increase death, injury, or illness in the workplace. An example of these occurrences is loosely-fitting glove can get caught in machines or loose harnesses can cause one to fall. Construction Standards that are created by OSHA do not require that employers have proper PPE that fits every employee.

The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) states that more employers are providing a wide-range of sizes for PPE.

There is a list of commercially-available PPE that can be found on the CPWR website. The list categories construction equipment by: Footwear, footwear cold climate accessories, eat protection, harnesses, hard hats, high visibility clothing, flame resistant clothing, safety glasses and safety gloves. This list will be maintained by CPWR and it is suggested that you monitor the link for continually updated resources.
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