Why The Unisex Approach To PPE Doesn’t Work

Why The Unisex Approach To PPE Doesn’t Work

Employers in the UK are required by law to provide their workers with well-maintained and fully-functioning PPE free of charge. Whilst in principal this sounds like a good initiative, for women it can pose something of an issue given that most employers only usually carry generically sized and shape garments that are tailored towards their male counterparts. In these situations, all that happens is that they’re offered a smaller sized piece and although this does not go against an employer’s legal requirement, it is far from ideal for the worker.

Despite more women than ever joining the construction and energy industries, it still remains that 71% of PPE is designed for men to wear / use. Because of this, fewer than 10% of women working in the energy sector and just 17% in construction wear / use PPE that was specifically designed for the female body.

The reason why it can be dangerous for women to have to make do with garments that were intended for wear / use by men, is that the difference in the shape and size of their chests, hips, and thighs affects the way the straps fit to safety harnesses. Similarly, the standard shaped face masks and eye goggles that are designed for Caucasian males, means that they don’t fit most women (as well as a lot of black and minority ethnic men also).

More than just a comfort thing, poorly fitted PPE hampers women’s work – and can actually be a safety hazard itself. For instance, loose fitting garments and gloves can potentially get caught up in machinery and wearing boots that are too large can cause tripping. Some 60% of women working in the industry have stated that their PPE significantly hampers their work.

In order to combat these issues, STRATA® has developed a full ladieswear range of PPE and safety clothing – a range designed for women, by women. All of the garments in their ladieswear range were designed with the female body as the prime focus and based on feedback received from women working within thee industry. The result are pieces that are well-fitting and fashionable, yet super functional.

This is not the only thing that Strata is doing to change the landscape for women working in the energy and construction industries. Earlier this year, they marked International Women’s Day by interviewing a number of key women within the industry to get their thoughts and aspirations for the industry, not only for women but as a whole. Read the interview with Yasmin Ali (Energy Innovation Programme Manager at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)) here. 

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