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The shape of PPE for women could be changed so it increases safety for the user and is more effective in its role.
Potential alterations have been presented after research showed women were being given ill-fitting PPE which could put them in danger.
More than 50 people gathered at an event arranged by global provider of product and service solutions RS, a brand of RD Group plc, to discuss the problem and see the potential solutions.
The company hosted the event at its headquarters in Corby after customers in all sectors requested better PPE for women – particularly those working in hazardous industries like engineering, construction and manufacturing.
Irene Hoile, Operations Director at RS, said: “We know from independent research that women are being given ill-fitting PPE when asked to do jobs that could potentially put them in danger.
“In some cases, they are told to put on clothing which doesn’t provide the same level of protection as it should, because sizes are way too big or not cut for a woman’s shape.
“That’s why we decided to hold this event to hear what women think and want.
“Women aren’t just small men! 50% of warehouse operatives at RS in Corby and Nuneaton are women and PPE needs to be adaptable to them at various stages of their life, including pregnancy and menopause.”
The event featured a panel where suppliers informed attendees what actions they are taking to solve problems like incorrect sizing of PPE for women and ensuring any kind of workwear is fit for purpose.
Those attending were also able to view a wide selection of PPE product solutions.
Rosie Beevor, Country Manager at Deutsche Windtechnik, is an engineer working in the global offshore wind sector and said she found the event very useful.
She said: “When I’m selecting PPE and workwear for our offshore engineers, when it comes to women, I need something which fits properly so that it does not present additional risk.
“For example, a women’s jacket has less material around the waist so when worn under personal fall protective equipment (PFPE) it provides a safer fit to the user.
“We need to ensure boots, helmets, gloves and glasses are also correctly fitted to suit the wider size variation required for our women engineers.
“All of this needs to also take into account that our engineers work at height, offshore, exposed to the elements which can range from 30 degrees upwards in the summer to minus 10 degrees in the winter out at sea.”
Debbie Dixey, PPE Solutions Specialist for Uvex, said: “When it comes to PPE, one size does not fit all.
“Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, it’s important to ensure your PPE is not only fit for purpose, but fits you as an individual.
“It’s so important that manufacturers produce a range of sizes and fits across their product portfolio.”
Plans are already taking place to make this a regular event.