Women's PPE

Trends in ... women’s PPE

‘Inclusive sizing is fundamental’

When it comes to personal protective equipment and clothing for women, “it’s not just about making a product that is a woman’s specific fit,” Dovetail Workwear co-founder Sara DeLuca says. “It’s about accommodating the beautiful array of shapes and sizes of the female workforce.”

One way to do this, DeLuca notes, is digital patterning – a new technology being used in the field. “From design inception, digital patterning allows companies to test their patterns on different body shapes.”

It’s important because “inclusive sizing is fundamental in servicing women’s PPE needs,” she said. “That means manufacturing a size run that goes beyond the core and includes very small and plus sizes.” 

Melanie Adams, founder of Embher Inc., added: “If we’re going to be inclusive, we need to provide shorts, talls, big and smalls. Everyone deserves to have PPE that fits, even if their time in the field is limited.”

Sam Sproull, brand marketing manager for Warson Brands, agrees.

“Many factors regarding women’s PPE need more consideration to create safe and inclusive work environments,” Sproull said. “Proper fit is essential, and PPE is not one size fits all. Comfort is important, as employees have physically strenuous jobs and need to be able to perform.”

What else can employers do to ensure women are comfortable with the PPE they’re wearing?

“More education and training surrounding PPE is necessary to ensure that all employees are properly equipped and informed about their safety equipment,” Sproull said. “This also requires establishing an environment where feedback is encouraged to enable workers to report any issues or discomfort with their PPE so that changes can be made as needed.”

Another suggestion is to “allow women to choose what is going to work for them,” Adams said. “Even within the differences of women’s body shapes and sizes, what works for one female worker may not work for all of them. Allowing them to have flexibility in their PPE selection is key to ensuring they have adequate protection and feel comfortable.”

DeLuca offers this advice: “When bringing in women’s PPE options, I hope that employers take the time to engage the women on their teams to find out what their needs and preferences are. I hope they do the research to find out what elements of that PPE will enable her to perform at her best and tailor the PPE offering accordingly.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Eyewashes/showers
  • Training/education

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