Written by Katy Robinson
Senior Project Manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Women in construction: PPE that is fit for purpose

Both men and women are suffering from ill-fitting PPE, affecting their safety at work. But women are experiencing it at a disproportionately higher rate. 59.6% of women are having to wear PPE that is designed for men (NAWIC Yorkshire, 2023), which has a number of impacts on self-confidence, perceived professionalism, as well as health and safety hazards, despite the products being available on the market.

The problem is that ill-fitting PPE is not being investigated sufficiently, action is not being taken, and we find ourselves in a situation where nearly 60% of employers are not providing women’s specific personal protective equipment (NAWIC Yorkshire, 2023).

We launched the PPE Campaign back in 2023. We wanted to address the issue head on by raising awareness of ill-fitting PPE, working closely with the British Standards Institute. Our campaigning has taken us to the UK Government and Health and Safety Executive and we’ve made some significant strides this year already. Most recently, the campaign was raised in Parliament by Labour MP, Emma Hardy who told the Commons:

“This omission is one which continues to have significant real-world consequences. The world is finally waking up to the fact that women are not just smaller men.”

We’ve also worked with the Considerate Constructors Scheme to mandate inclusive PPE on their registered activities and proposed an inclusive PPE motion at East Riding of Yorkshire Council which was passed unanimously.