It has now, in 2017, been over a decade since WES first flagged that PPE remained an issue for women across engineering and science: WES past Presidents Jan Peters and Pip Ayton discussed the ongoing problem with Jane Garvey on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. A follow up survey was also led by Prospect showing a continuing cause for concern.
While there was welcome news of solid research from PPE manufacturers, initiators lead by Babcock and TFL to improve the provision for their staff, the news wasn’t wholly good. Progress is stiltingly slow, limited “by the cost” and “small market”.
PPE is now available from a number of suppliers with clothing and especially gloves, a company called Covergalls took account of women's smaller hands and developed apparel which ' fitted like a glove' Other suppliers like Arco are now realising that women are here to stay and are developing female friendly safety clothing.
However, while research is available from V12 and Arco on female safety footwear, which demonstrates women being physically harmed by wearing incorrect fitting boots, and continue to be hampered by other ill-sized garments including gloves; it seems there are limited plans to expand the range of PPE so that it is available across all specifications and industries.
WES is of the opinion that that this is an issue that should not be left to lie idle and would like to see the research, now it is known to exist, to be made public. And that the Health and Safety Executive should to step up and take an interest in this issue with companies taking note to ensure they fulfil their duty of care.
Readers interested in being involved should get in touch with the WES office on firstname.lastname@example.org