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The Importance of Properly Sized PPE for a Female Workforce

by Julie on April 28, 2015

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Wearing the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is critical for any job. Keeping workers safe is your top priority.

Women all across North America who participated in a study held by Work Place Safety and Prevention Services  about PPE for women, said that they have given up waiting for improvements to the PPE selection for the proper PPE and that they’d rather fit in than stand out and ask for the right PPE.  Not standing out is dangerous, not only to them but you as well.


The Dangers of Improperly Sized PPE

When PPE is too large it can fail to prevent problems and even add additional ones. Sleeves or glove fingers that are too long can become snag hazards that can get caught in equipment. Cuffs that are meant to protect the user from hazardous chemicals can actually collect those chemicals instead if they are too loose, causing injuries. Pants or footwear that are too large can present a tripping hazard. These are just a few examples of the many hazards that improperly sized PPE can present in a workplace.

Beautiful Woman in Welder


The Frustrations of Improperly Sized PPE

To go along with the potential job site hazards, it can be very frustrating to a worker to lack PPE that fits them properly.

The first reaction of a worker when she cannot find properly fitting gear might be to go without. While this could put her at risk for injury, it could also put her job at risk as well. Many jobsites have mandatory compliance policies that will punish workers who fail to wear proper protection. This ultimately means that they are forced to wear improperly fitting equipment. Not good.

Woman wearing PPE

It’s uncomfortable to have to spend a number of hours wearing bulky, ill-fitting gear. Having to do so can make for an unpleasant day at the work site. It could also unwittingly cause competition between workers of the same size as they feel they have to compete for the one or two sets of equipment that will fit them.

Finally, there is a psychological consequence, when one get the sense of not being properly cared about by the safety team. Not having the correct gear for all workers on a job site might give female workers the impression that they are not as important to protect as their male counterparts.


Have a Wide Range of Sizes Available

Avoid the temptation to take a “one size fits all” approach. Before ordering PPE for your crew, take a survey to see what sizes they require. At minimum, a glove should be available in small – XL, although having and XS option is preferable.You can also involve employees in the decision process by purchasing samples in several sizes so that they can try them out to see what will fit best.

female carpenter on site

When ordering PPE for your work crew, take into account the size range and order an appropriate amount of each size to cover all of your workers. If you find you miscalculated and over ordered, you can always store the excess as replacements for worn PPE.

Download the Complete Guide to PPE to help you create a check list to ensure all your workers are safe.



Updated – July 21,2017 –  Updated with new studies done on the Personal Protective Gear for Women.

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Reader Comments'

Interesting article and very true. Working in the cement industry is still pretty much a mans world (outside field workers mostly) and sometimes very difficult to find the correct sizes for our few female employees.

Reply Julie Bolduc - September 3, 2015

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