Page 64 - OHS, June 2022
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Addressing Physical Differences
Men and women are not the same. Don’t provide them with the same PPE.
OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard, 29 CFR 1910.132, was established in 1971 to provide protective equipment whenever the hazards of processes or environment require it. At that time, however, OSHA
did not address the proper fit of PPE.
In 1994, a commenter to a proposed update suggested that
OSHA require PPE to fit properly. OSHA agreed, noting that, in the past, males constituted most of the workforce and PPE was sized accordingly. As more and more females entered the workforce, they often had to choose between wearing PPE designed to fit males, and not wearing PPE at all due to improper fit and subsequent discomfort. Since females accounted for
a larger percentage of the workforce than ever before, OSHA revised 1910.132(d) to add proper fit as a criterion for PPE selection. Fast forward nearly 30 years, and progress in the PPE space as it pertains to proper fit is still lacking.
In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women made up nearly one-third of the manufacturing workforce, and roughly 11 percent of construction, accounting for nearly 47 percent of working people in the United States. While compared to previous years where the trend line was gradually increasing, these lower numbers are due in part to current economic issues. However, this does not change the overall trajectory of where women in the workplace are going.
58 Occupational Health & Safety | JUNE 2022
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