Page 74 - OHS, June 2022
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product size available to meet the standard was “medium” so that smaller workers (frequently women) literally had to wear an oversized product—thus exposed to a different hazard: baggy clothing!
And, while not required, it’s recommended that women exposed to arc flash and flash fire hazards on the job wear AR/FR women’s bras and underwear, or 100 percent cotton or silk options. ASTM F1506-20a mentions base layers in the appendix—this is non-mandatory but helpful information. “X1.1.1 Garments worn as underlayers (underwear) that neither ignite nor melt and drip in the course of an exposure to the electric arc and related thermal hazard may provide additional thermal insulation.” Cotton, silk or AR/FR options are best suited to meet this recommendation and while the options are limited, they are available.
Footwear is one area where the standards have specifically addressed women workers. ASTM F2412, Standard Specification for Footwear includes a test method that takes into account the differences between men and women, with regards to metatarsal impact. In this test method, there’s an adjustment to the positioning of a striking bar simulating metatarsal impact on the foot for women vs. men.
What Safety Professionals Can Do
As women continue to move into historically male-dominated
While many safety leaders have prioritized women’s apparel choice, there’s more work to be done.
professions, safety leaders must make women’s apparel selections more than an afterthought. In the past, worker-choice clothing programs were dominated by products for men, with women considered only at the last minute. More and more, women are—rightfully—demanding products that fit, that they can wear comfortably and safely on the job. Both women and men in leadership roles can contribute to the success of women by taking full advantage of the products on the market.
Part of this means partnering with a protective clothing supplier that offers the industry’s full range of products developed specifically for women, and considering women in forecasting
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