Canada is currently facing a major shortage in skilled trades workers. According to the government of Canada’s website, “The most recent projections estimate about 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire between 2019 and 2028, creating an ever-growing need to recruit and train thousands more.” Although action is being taken by our governments, who have been working to introduce various programs to attract more workers to the industry, one major potential resource demographic is women.
According to ohscanada.com,” there are many barriers women face when it comes to joining the construction trades, a major one being safety.” Most personal protective equipment on the market is designed for men, as men have traditionally made up most of the skilled trades industry. This has led to improper fitting of personal protective equipment due to women’s smaller body sizes and of course being shaped differently. As stated by ohscanada.com, “[t]his can become a major obstacle when it comes to hiring women for work crews and making them feel welcome in the industry.” Although there are some options out there for women’s PPE, they can be difficult to find and are often not particularly appealing. Many workplaces also do not provide women’s PPE options.
According to an article in ohscanada.com, a recent report found that just 6 percent of [survey] respondents said that safety gear is designed for them. A report from CSA group was released last week. The report found women:
- use PPE that is the wrong size at least some of the time (58 per cent)
- don’t wear all the required PPE at work because of fit issues (28 per cent)
- use a workaround to make their PPE fit (38 per cent).
Many women in the trades and construction industry report that the personal protective equipment available at their company is uncomfortable, with many needing to constantly adjust it throughout their shift. This has led some women to resort to buying their own PPE when this gear would normally be supplied by their company.
Improperly fitting PPE can also become a workplace hazard. For instance, loose, oversized protective clothing can get caught in machinery which could potentially lead to serious injuries. Boots that are too large can lead to falls. Similarly, improperly fitting respiratory protective equipment can have some serious consequences.
Women are in need better personal protective equipment, especially as we see major shortages in skilled trades workers in Canada. From a safety standpoint, improperly fitting PPE is unacceptable and has the potential to become a major hazard, which could lead to accidents and even loss of life. We hope to see better options for women’s PPE on the market in the years to come. To learn more about PPE and proper fitting, you can visit Workhub’s free Personal Protective Equipment online safety course here.
Women’s PPE suppliers
Below we have listed some current online suppliers of women’s PPE:
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