Issues

Women In PPE

Women in the workplace have expressed a disconnect between the design and fit of PPE available to women. Historically, PPE marketed to women are simply smaller in size, which is not inclusive of all women. And, according to NIOSH, anthropometric data is vital to ensure PPE fits properly, but there is a lack of such data when it comes to the general worker.  

The Issue

PPE isn't one size fits all

OSHA 1910.132(d)(1)(iii) states that selected PPE shall properly fit each affected employee. To maintain compliance with this regulation, employers must ensure that PPE provided to women employees fits properly. 
 
Women in the workplace have expressed a disconnect between the design and fit of PPE available to women. Historically, PPE marketed to women are simply smaller in size, which is not inclusive of all women. And, according to NIOSH, anthropometric data is vital to ensure PPE fits properly, but there is a lack of such data when it comes to the general worker.

Additional PPE fit considerations unique to women employees include:

  • Recovering from medical procedures, such as a mastectomy or hysterectomy 
  • Managing life cycle events, including pregnancy, lactation, or menopause 
  • Transitioning to one’s self-identified gender, especially with body changes due to hormones 

Why It's Important

Safety is at risk

When PPE is ill-fitting, it can cause negative physical and psychological effects, impacting a woman’s trust for her employer and ability to do her job safely and productively. 
 
According to 2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, women outpace men in fatal injury events in the category of exposure to harmful substances or environments. This means the safety equipment provided to women is often not adequate in reducing exposure to harmful substances, and women are at risk of a fatality in these instances due to the nature of the hazard.

What We're Doing

Safety is at risk

ISEA is officially represented on the ASSP technical report committee drafting Z590.6 Guidance of Personal Protective Equipment for Women. This guidance addresses fit issues, selection, assessment, and use of such equipment. Through the application of the guidance in this technical report, occupational safety and health hazards, risks, and exposures related to PPE issues can be identified, avoided, reduced, and/ or eliminated. This Technical Report will be published in 2023.  

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