Despite Increased Presence in Construction, Women Lack Size-Appropriate PPE

Hardhat gloves measuring tape and plans resting on wooden table

Ill-Fitting PPE Compromises Safety, Efficiency and Comfort

September 26, 2022
Robin Marth - Construction Executive

Fit. Functionality. Comfort. These are absolute musts for any employee wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) for work. Yet for many women in the workplace, finding PPE that fits well remains a challenge.

In 2021, women comprised 11% of construction workers, 7.9% of truck drivers and 29% of manufacturing employees (Bureau of Labor Statistics), and their numbers in these fields continue to increase. Unfortunately, their options for proper-fitting PPE are not growing.

"It's difficult to find PPE that fits women, because there is limited availability of these products, or suppliers do not offer them at all," says Brandy Bossle, owner and principal consultant at Triangle Safety Consulting LLC. "We really need suppliers to go out of their way to offer PPE that's cut for both men and women."

Private fleet driver and Women in Trucking Image Team member Carol Nixon agrees, saying, "You can find men's hats, gloves, jackets and safety vests everywhere, but not with a female fit."

Women can be shaped differently from head to toe—their faces, shoulders, waists, fingers and toes are often narrower, and they often have shorter torsos, among other differences.

In order for PPE to fit many women comfortably and properly, these proportions need to be taken into account. In fact, OSHA states on its website that PPE used by women should be based on female body measurement data and that employers should offer PPE in sizes suitable for women.

Reprinted courtesy of Robin Marth, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.

Ms. Marth may be contacted at media@jjkeller.com



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