Page 68 - OHS, June 2022
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A New Approach: Going Beyond “One Size Fits All” PPE
Given the growing numbers of women in utility and electrical industries, the need for proper fitting PPE is at an all-time high.
1,106,919 women
approximately, were employed in various occupation sectors of the construction industry as of Dec. 31, 2018.
9.9 %
of the construction industry in the United States is women.
of the entire U.S. workforce in 2019 was made up of women
Numbers of Women in the Construction Industry Sector
1,200,000 1,100,000 1,000,000
900,000 800,000
The following is a breakdown of women by occupation sector in the U.S. workforce:
Sales & Office 28%
Professional & Management 44%
Natural Resources, Construction & Maintenance 1%
Service Occupations 21.1%
Production, Transportation &
Material Moving 5.9%
For years, most women in the utility and electrical industries have had to shop for their protective apparel in the men’s section, a frustrating search that usually results in ill- fitting PPE. Given the growing numbers of women in
these industries, this problem is only getting worse—and more dangerous. In a recent study, three in four survey participants believed the number of women who wear FR will increase in the coming years. As more women take on electrical and utility jobs, the need for women’s PPE will continue to grow. Unfortunately, PPE has almost exclusively focused on men, not only alienating professional women, but also significantly compromising their access to critical safety equipment.
A one-size-fits-all mentality and a historic lack of women’s PPE options increases risk in already hazardous fields. By wearing ill- fitting PPE designed specifically for men, women do not receive the same protection from their garments. Flame-resistant and arc-rated (FR/AR) garments that are too tight or too loose may expose the wearer to arc flashes up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit resulting in potentially life-altering burn injuries.
In today’s work environments, women need access to the same level of PPE performance as men, without sacrificing fit, style and comfort. Outfitting women with properly-designed garments not only provide optimal protection, it also supports a more inclusive, welcoming workplace. When a potential employee knows that the clothing required for a new role will not fit her correctly, she may be less likely to accept the position. The availability of women- specific FR/AR garments broadens the spectrum of gear and professionals who can rely on it for their safety.
Beyond just convenient features, elements like well-applied
62 Occupational Health & Safety | JUNE 2022
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