Now that more women are entering the construction industry, employers need to keep them in mind when purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE). Properly choosing, wearing, and maintaining PPE will decrease the number of construction incidents on your project sites. If you would like legal counsel on maintaining a safe jobsite for your female workforce, consult with one of our expert OSHA defense lawyers. Read part one of our article to learn more.
Frustrations With PPE
It is stressful enough for your employees to come to work and face potential workplace hazards, but adding the frustration of a lack of proper PPE can send the wrong message to your employees. Some employees will go without if they cannot find PPE that fits them properly. This is a catch-22 for the employee as they could jeopardize their job for failing to wear PPE per their company’s compliance policies, but if they choose to wear the PPE, they are forced to perform work in discomfort with an increased risk of incident. Place a high priority on providing your female workforce with the right PPE tailored specifically for the female body so they will feel valued and protected.
Improperly Sized PPE is Dangerous
Not only is wearing no PPE dangerous, but it is also dangerous to wear improperly sized PPE. Obviously, equipment designed for men will not fit a woman’s body size, height, and composition. Ill-fitting PPE further exposes women to workplace incidents. For example, gloves that are too big can lead to snags on machinery or clumsiness which prevents a female worker from completing her tasks. When selecting PPE for women, employers must consider these factors:
Hard Hat: Oversized hats can cause vision obstruction due to the hat shifting; a chin strap may be necessary.
Eyewear: A woman’s face is usually smaller than a man’s; goggles must fit to eliminate gaps at the temple.
Handwear: Womens hands are smaller, shorter, and narrower; gloves must fit to improve dexterity.
Footwear: A woman’s foot is typically shorter and narrower than a man’s foot; boots must fit comfortably.
Safety harness: Improper sizing hinders movement.
Never take a one-size-fits-all approach to PPE. Ill-fitting PPE takes the focus off your employees’ jobs. Before selecting PPE for your employees, speak with female workers about sizing requirements and provide samples of different sizes so they can see what fits them best.
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.