One Size DOESN’T Fit All: Navigating the Challenges of Women’s Safety Gear

In most industries, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one of our first forms of defense towards being safe on the job. However, women in various industries have reported a serious concern—PPE and safety gear that they’re provided doesn’t quite fit, placing them at greater risk on the job.

Struggles with PPE

Nearly 3,000 Canadian women who rely on PPE for their jobs were surveyed about what level of safety they felt on the job. More than 80% reported struggling with one or more issues related to their safety gear—improper fit, discomfort, and inadequate selection. These challenges, when unaddressed, not only compromise the safety of female workers but can also hinder their overall job performance.

Impact on Well-Being

A related report revealed that 40% of respondents experienced injuries or incidents linked to their ill-fitting PPE. Such incidents not only result in physical harm but also contribute to a broader safety concern in the workplace. The study uncovered that 58% of women use PPE that is the wrong size some of the time, 28% don’t wear all the required PPE due to fit issues, and 38% resort to workarounds such as rubber bands, safety pins, and duct tape to make their PPE fit.

What Can YOU Do?

These insights highlight the necessity for a re-evaluation of PPE standards to accommodate the diverse body shapes and sizes of women in the workforce. Employers and companies must take proactive steps to address these challenges and bridge the safety gap:

  1. PPE Assessments:

    1. Size matters! Regularly assess the specific safety gear needs of all employees, considering the diverse body shapes and sizes.
    2. Engage with female employees to understand their experiences and challenges related to PPE.
  2.  Diversify PPE Options:

    1. Work with suppliers to expand the range of available PPE sizes and styles, ensuring a diverse selection that accommodates all types of employees.
    2. Provide a variety of options for safety gear, such as gloves, footwear, and coveralls, to cater to different comfort preferences.
  3. Education and Training:

    1. Conduct training sessions to educate employees on the importance of proper PPE fit for both safety and comfort.
    2. Train supervisors, managers, and safety personnel to recognize and address specific PPE needs.
  4. Policy Review and Update:

    1. Develop and implement gender-inclusive workplace policies that explicitly address the maintenance of appropriate PPE for all employees.
    2. Regularly review and update policies to ensure they remain effective and responsive to the needs of a diverse workforce.

Gear Up!

Don’t let the professionals on your worksite go another day without the right PPE! Ask us about our expert training sessions on PPE, how to wear it and how to ensure it fits to keep everyone on the jobsite well informed and protected.

You can also contact us or reach out to your local Bunzl Safety representative to start building a more inclusive PPE assortment today!

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