Appropriate PPE for female construction workers | Radians for safety and health
The answer is Nicole Novick, Product Manager, radianMemphis, TN.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending a meeting dedicated to women in construction. As the meeting progressed, it became very apparent that two of the biggest challenges facing the industry today are attracting and retaining employees.
Even though women make up about half of the overall workforce in the United States, the construction workforce can only claim 10% of female employees. This means that women are still an untapped labor market, especially in construction and trades. Ideas on how to attract women into these fields were discussed at the meeting before someone said, “Hey, once we have them, how do we keep them?”
The answer that topped the list was “inclusiveness.” Women need to feel part of the team. They are strong team members, eager to learn and bring a diverse set of skills. Their development and inclusion as team members and professionals is key to retention.
Part of inclusion is providing workers with properly fitting PPE, including high-visibility clothing. For years, tradeswomen didn’t have much choice in their work clothes. They often wore the same clothes their male counterparts wore. In some cases, it worked. But, overall, these oversized protective garments did not fit well. Loose clothing can lead to snagging hazards on construction equipment, often resulting in trips and falls, one of the leading causes of jobsite injuries. Tight-fitting clothing leads to discomfort and inappropriate wear, such as wearing clothes open, tucked in, or not at all.
Other times, women wore completely different clothes than men, which set them apart from their male peers. This often left the women feeling left out of the team.
In recent years, clothing designed for women has become more common. These garments resemble men’s clothing, but are designed with specific details that take into account the female shape and figure. Some of the design details include:
- Narrower at the shoulders
- Slightly tapered at the waist
- Wider sweep (hips) or side slits
- Zippers/higher zippers for more coverage and security
These better-fitting garments improve compliance and help reduce trips and falls from snagging hazards. Female construction workers are already required to manage a myriad of workplace hazards due to the nature of their work, so why add ill-fitting clothing to the mix?
High visibility vests, t-shirts, winter jackets and raincoats designed specifically for women are now available to help equip workers in a variety of applications and seasons. ANSI/ISEA 107 Type O Class 1, Type R Class 2, and Type R Class 3 garments are also offered, covering various compliance and application needs.
Plus, if your construction site needs specialized or custom apparel for women or men, many leading PPE manufacturers are now better equipped to create custom apparel “Made in the USA” based on your needs. specific to the site.
The variety of high visibility apparel available today allows women in construction and trades to blend in with their male peers. Team inclusivity and well-fitting clothing and PPE will help women feel more comfortable and safe on the job. Feeling safe, secure and comfortable at work will not only help attract female workers, but also retain them.
Editor’s note: This article represents the independent opinions of the author and should not be construed as an endorsement by the National Security Council.