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The Right Fit: Improving PPE for Women in Construction

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When it comes to personal injury claims stemming from the project site, the first question that comes to mind is oftentimes: “Did the employee have on the proper personal protective equipment (PPE)?” The answer might very well be “no,” but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the worker was at fault. For example, if the employer provided their employees with the wrong type or size of PPE, the worker’s injury might very well be the result of their negligence. This is a common scenario for women in the construction industry. PPE enforcement is more than just providing the right tools and equipment for the job; it’s about making sure these items are in the right condition to keep workers safe.

Women are built differently than men. The lack of uniformity in the shapes of our bodies creates an opportunity for lapses in PPE efficacy. PPE needs to fit properly to do its job correctly. As a contractor, are you doing everything in your power to ensure that all of your workers, male and female, are outfitted with the proper PPE? In this brief article, an Orlando construction attorney from Cotney Construction Law will discuss how PPE can be improved for women in construction.

Work Attire Designed for Women is Essential 

On average, women tend to be smaller than men. They also have narrower feet, thinner ankles, and smaller hands. Women on the project site can’t always rely on PPE that was designed for men. When PPE fits too tightly or too loosely, it can cause difficulties for women as they try to complete tasks. Ill-fitting PPE is also a safety hazard. Construction workers have to be able to move quickly on their feet to avoid being injured on the project site. If a worker’s ability to move freely is inhibited by the wrong PPE, you could find yourself paying for their medical expenses. Today, there are more women in construction than five or ten years ago, which means PPE manufacturers need to consider the needs of women when designing PPE.

In 2014, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health reported that PPE including coveralls, fall protection harnesses, hard hats, gloves, respirators, safety shoes, and safety goggles were potentially too large to effectively protect women on the project site. Respirators that don’t protect the wearer against chemicals, clothes that get trapped in machines, and boots that are too big and cause the wearer to trip are three common examples of PPE that can’t perform its job due to male-oriented designs.

The Risk of Improper PPE

As the construction industry continues to seek out highly skilled workers to combat the labor shortage, it’s imperative that these new workers are given the chance to succeed. For female workers, that means providing the proper PPE to help keep them safe and maximize their efficiency on the project site. Contractors who neglect to provide the proper PPE may become a target for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Additionally, unsuitable PPE can lead to more workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims. If you want to save money, keep working, and improve profitability, it’s vital that you keep a close eye on the PPE needs of your workers.

If you would like to speak with one of our Orlando construction attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.