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February 23, 2024

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Inclusive PPE

Council votes to urge government to make change for inclusive PPE

East Riding of Yorkshire Council members voted on Wednesday (21 February) to write to the Government to urge it to make it compulsory for STEM industries (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to provide inclusive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

A motion before the council recognised that there are ‘widespread inequalities’ in the provision of PPE across minority groups, especially women, in STEM industries.

“We want to play our part”

Katy Robinson compares the fit of men’s and women’s high-visibility trousers

Councillor Victoria Aitken, the council’s Cabinet member for children, families and education, who proposed the motion to Full Council, said: “We know that many women face a range of health and safety effects caused by ill-fitting PPE, with nearly 60% not receiving women’s specific PPE from their employers.

“As a council, we want to play our part in trying to rectify this situation, and so we have voted to mandate the requirement for Inclusive PPE in all areas of our own council business, and to actively encourage local businesses in the East Riding to mandate that requirement as well.

“I am pleased to say that East Riding of Yorkshire Council is at the forefront of this national campaign, by offering inclusive PPE, and continuously adding items into the internal catalogue for staff to procure, as they become available on the market.

“We will also now write to the government to encourage it to mandate the requirement for inclusive PPE within the PPE Regulations 1992.”

Equality Act and PPE

Katy Robinson, who works for the council as a Senior Project Manager, and is also the campaign manager for the National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC), whose Yorkshire region is leading the PPE campaign, explained: “Inclusive PPE does exist, and is available, but it can be very difficult to get managers across the various industries to procure it.”

Speaking to SHP, Katy also discussed joining elements of the Equality Act into PPE guidance, saying: “What we’re looking at doing is adding the protected characteristics from the Equality Act into the PPE regulation. So they need to take that into account and that should cover [factors such as] gender, gender reassignment, ethnicity as well as transgender, disabilities [and] modesty requirements. So I think it does cover everything.”

Read our article with Katy on inclusive PPE here: ‘It took six years before I realised PPE for women was available’: Katy Robinson on making a difference

On the effects of wrong fitting PPE, Katy added: “Ill fitting PPE can cause a whole range of health and safety issues; for example, safety boots which don’t fit correctly are a trip hazard, and can also lead to health issues like tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and Morton’s neuroma. Women wearing gloves which are too big for them struggle to grip on handrails and ladders, and to operate machinery. Some women then remove the gloves, which can lead to burns and other injuries.

“High visibility clothing also has to be the right size, or else it can limit movement and cause real discomfort. In many cases, women wear oversized coats, which they are unable to fasten. Safety glasses which are the wrong size tend to steam up or, at worst, fall off, and of course safety helmets must also be adjustable to fit correctly.

“Another problem area is safety harnesses – they can be hard to adjust to make them fit for women, so this can create situations where women could fall out of the harness, or suffer suspension trauma, or even have their circulation cut off.

“The aim of the national campaign by NAWIC Yorkshire is to address the widespread inequalities in PPE provision and design across the construction industry and beyond.”

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Karl Simons
Karl Simons
1 month ago

Another great step forward!