Trends in ... Women’s PPE
Just say ‘no’ to alterations
Faced with wearing personal protective equipment that was designed for men, some women may make the decision to alter PPE to achieve a better fit. If you’re one of those women, stop right there. Experts say PPE never should be altered.
“Look for manufacturers who have PPE specifically designed for women and try on multiple garments to get the best fit,” said Dionne Murray Lemer, senior product manager for National Safety Apparel in Cleveland.
Altering PPE may make it ineffective, Murray Lemer said. By purchasing PPE from a manufacturer who makes products specifically for women, users can “reduce the risk of injury from ergonomics, tripping, struck by, snag hazards and overall compliance from worker acceptance.”
She went on to say that women’s PPE “must be designed to provide the same level of protection [as men’s] while addressing the different design criteria for different body shapes,” adding that “when employers provide garments that are specifically designed to be more comfortable, they increase compliance and worker safety.”
In addition to product alterations, not educating workers on how to properly use PPE can be an issue. “Products and technologies can always be misused, so proper training needs to be conducted at each jobsite,” said Stacey Simmons, product manager for industrial head and face protection products at Cynthiana, KY-based Bullard. “People who are using PPE products and technologies need to fully understand how they work and be comfortable raising their hand when additional training is needed.”
“Women’s PPE, it may be argued, is created with a premium on comfort, fit and style,” said Cleo Cabuz, vice president, technology and partnerships, safety and productivity solutions for Honeywell in Fort Mill, SC. “Advanced 3D modeling now allows us to create prototype shapes for male and female users incorporating features that will ensure best fit and comfort.”
The most important thing to remember, though?
“While there are differences in design between men’s and women’s PPE, there is no difference in the essential safety performance,” Cabuz said.