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Some employers tend to minimize the need for properly fitting personal protective equipment when it comes to women, particularly in construction, the International Safety Equipment Association said Tuesday, calling on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to address what it calls a “safety hazard.”
“It’s time to act,” ISEA President Charles D. Johnson said in a statement. “OSHA needs to address this gap in its regulations and require employers in construction — and in every industry — to provide properly fitting PPE to every employee.”
Calling on employers to better understand the need for personal protective equipment that is individualized, the organization said in a statement that safety is a factor: “too loose, (equipment) could easily get caught in machinery, with disastrous consequences; too tight, the worker will be uncomfortable and might not be able to tolerate it or even wear it,” reads the organization’s call to action.
“Employers need to be proactive and accountable with regard to PPE. Ordering PPE is not merely a box to check off on a to-do list — it’s a vital step in saving lives preventing injuries, and creating a culture of worker safety,” said Mr. Johnson in the statement.
The problem is “some employers find it easier to order one or two common sizes in bulk — often Large or XL — without regard for physical variations in employees,” the statement reads.
“PPE fit should be communicated in a way that a worker can understand their size, and the employer must make the effort to purchase the sizes needed, no matter the quantity,” says Abby Ferri, president of Minneapolis-based safety-consulting firm The Ferri Group LLC, in the statement. “Workers of any gender should not be in a position to modify their gear or compromise safety by wearing ill-fitting PPE.”
Employers should pay closer attention to the fit of personal protective equipment, as more women find work in safety-sensitive industries.