Please share some insights into how challenging it has historically been to source appropriately fitting women’s PPE, and the negative impact that this has had on women’s everyday work in construction.
"I have worked in the industry for over 20 years, female sized PPE was certainly not a consideration or conversation when I first started in the industry, so the fact we now have such amazing campaigns and changes to drive improvement in this area is a huge positive.
Not providing the correct fitting PPE can be a significant health and safety issue, for example RPE designed to fit a man's face would potentially not provide the same protection levels for a woman if simply provided in a smaller size and not designed/fit correctly. It can also have an impact on mental health and wellbeing through not having the feeling of inclusivity, affecting comfort levels and confidence etc."
Can you share any personal examples of how badly fitting PPE has affected your own work in Construction in the past?
"Yes, I sure can! There's lots to remember, but one particularly stood out. A number of years ago, I undertook my IPAF Operator course and the harness provided was ill-fitting, uncomfortable and potentially unsafe. Attendees were encouraged to undertake a MEWPS demonstration at an industry event for Work at Height.
One had to wear a harness and over trousers. The over-trousers provided to me were massively oversized and did not encourage women at the event to get involved, and there was no provision at all for female sizes. I had to wear them, and in the photo I have provided, you can see that I was smiling, but in reality I remember feeling so embarrassed. It was hard enough going 90 meters up in the air in a truck-mounted platform (the only female in the basket), but then to add the fact I looked and felt ridiculous!
Although we have come such a long way in recent years, I do believe we can still improve, and it is so exciting to see changes such as the Code of Considerate Practice checklist requirement and the Best Practice Hub helping to educate and support companies on this journey, which will hopefully, in turn, drive an improvement with manufacturers and market availability."