One Size Does NOT Fit All

International women’s day is observed on March 8th every year. This year Women in Construction Week falls on the same week. This is an obvious opportunity for some recognition and education for the women in the construction industry and general industrial trades!

As a company, Work Right knows the importance of women in the workforce. Our company is woman owned, 2/3rds of the executive team are women, and 54% of the company itself is comprised of women. 

One thing we are also acutely aware of is the lack of PPE designed for women as a whole. Talk to any woman who has gone shopping for steel toed work shoes or work boots and you will likely get an earful about the lack of options and disappointing comfort. Turns out, in regards to finding the right PPE, we are not alone! OSHA and the CDC specifically calls this challenge out, saying that construction protection equipment as well as work tools are often designed to be used by the average sized man. The problem: poorly fitted PPE and poor ergonomics in the workplace increases risk of injury.

Let’s take this week to be transformational on all levels because the importance of having women in the workforce is vast. In regards to workplace safety and hazard prevention, here are a few tips we have found:

  1. Ensure proper fit of PPE: OSHA states that PPE is not suitable when it is fitting improperly or damaged from defect or wear. In order to protect from the hazard in which the protective equipment was designed for, it must fit properly. The CDC calls out these 3 pieces most notoriously designed to fit men: respirators, gloves, and work boots.
  2. Have women test PPE: How do you know if the PPE is going to be suitable for a women? Have them actually test and wear them. Employers should make a point to wear test PPE with women. And on the flip side, if you are the worker and don’t have the proper PPE, report this to your employer for a proper replacement.
  3. Ensure a range of sizes available: OSHA recommends as a best practice that employer provided PPE should be purchased in a wide range of sizes-specifically in size ranges suitable for women. One side does NOT fit all. Need guidance on where to find manufacturers who offer safety equipment for women, check out this list.