The construction industry has seen an increase of women on the job site. Year after year, this number continues to grow – but as a primarily male-dominated industry, there are still many things to take into consideration for women.
One of the biggest concerns for women working in the trades is the availability of personal protection equipment (PPE) that is designed with them in mind. PPE is the first line of defense against injury or death on the job site, and without proper equipment, women could be risking injury every time they punch in to work.
As the number of women in the construction industry continues to grow, this is an important thought to keep in mind.
The Rise of Women in Trade Roles
It’s easy to see that the construction and trade industries are still male-dominated work environments. But in recent years, there has been a continuous growth in the number of women on job sites. Now, there are over 900,000 women in the construction industry, with that number only expected to grow in coming years.
Women are finding their way into these hands-on roles for a variety of reasons. A few of their motives for joining the workforce include:
- the large amount of job opportunities
- potential for a higher income
- lower cost of education
How Women Benefit the Construction Industry
As much as the construction and trade industries offer women, women offer just as much back. The more women that join the workforce, the more skilled workers there are to complete the work – something that addresses a big problem in these industries. Women also bring new ideas and perspectives to the job site. The more diverse the company and crews are, the more likely new ideas and innovative tactics will arise.
Addressing the Personal Protective Equipment Needs of Women
Safety is always a top concern for workers on a job site. That’s where the topic of PPE comes into play. PPE can range from hard hats to steel toe boots, and everything in between. Each site and project will require different types of PPE. For example, if you are working at heights, harnesses will be required as fall protection, and if you are welding something, special gloves are needed to protect your hands. If safety protocols are not followed, serious injuries can be the result.
Since the number of women in the construction industry is still only a small portion of the entire workforce, safety products have not fully adapted to this growing demographic. Women in all areas of the trades are finding it hard to obtain PPE that fits properly and meets their needs. This makes the health and safety of women on the job site an increasing concern.
Women in all areas of the trades are finding it hard to obtain PPE that fits properly and meets their needs.
Many women in the trade industries are voicing their concerns that protective equipment such as gloves, boots, and fall protection harnesses do not fit their needs.
Work Gloves and Boots
Work gloves and boots are two types of PPE that women find are not designed to fit them. 46% of women stated that they couldn’t find safety shoes in the appropriate size, while 41% could not find work gloves that fit their hands. These numbers are alarming because without safety shoes, someone could easily break a foot. On the other hand, if gloves are too large, the worker may not be able to tell exactly what they are doing or excess material could get caught in a machine. Both issues could result in serious injuries to the worker – but could be easily avoided by having women’s sizes in stock at all times.
Falls are one of the most common causes of work related injuries and deaths. This makes fall protection harnesses an essential for anyone working at heights. The problem many women working in these conditions are finding is that the harnesses are do not fit comfortably or are too large.
In recent years, there have been improvements in the availability of products that provide a better fit. Today, there is one style of harness that is designed specifically with women in mind. In addition, many manufacturers also carry cross-over style harnesses that provide improved comfort and adjustability for women across the chest. The problem is that construction sites don’t always have these products readily available.
The Future of Women’s Safety
Whether the problem lies in the limited availability of products or the lack of knowledge about where to obtain equipment for women – it’s something to be aware of. As we continue to see women join the construction industry, we will need an increase in safety products designed to fit their needs. Every construction worker should have access to the proper PPE to ensure a safe day on the job.