Wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is critical to keeping a workforce safe. If the PPE is improperly sized, it can actually cause more harm than good. Yet this is a problem that many female workers face on a regular basis. They are either forced to wear improperly sized PPE or go without, simply because there is nothing in their size or the ones that are in their size are being used.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a sizing guide to help guide your selections.