Owing to the rise of female employees in sectors such as construction, mining and engineering, which were previously male dominated, personal protective equipment (PPE) brands are looking at offering safety wear specifically for women.
Catering for women in these sectors will require companies to take into consideration factors such as the differences between a male and a female safety shoe.
“Males and females cannot have the same type of safety shoe because, typically, women’s feet are narrower than men’s feet. If there is space in the safety shoe, the employee runs the risk of slipping out of the shoe, which is considered a safety hazard,” says women’s safety wear supplier Sisi Safety Wear brand manager Predahni Naidoo.
Companies also need to consider factors such as the weight of the shoe; the body structure; the pelvic bones; the pressure on the ankles, knees and hips; and how those will be affected on a longer-term basis when working on site.
Naidoo explains that a woman cannot wear a man’s overall, as she might be easily exposed and have to adjust her clothing constantly while working on site.
Not having the correct safety wear will also result in female employees being less productive, as they will take more breaks and cannot focus on the task at hand.
This increases the chances of employees making mistakes while performing tasks.
She highlights that, owing to historical behaviour and saving costs, procurement officers usually buy a company’s safety wear in bulk. However, the officers now have to be mindful of also buying safety wear for women.
“Procurement officers have to prioritise buying female safety wear and awareness has to be created about women having adequate safety wear in the workplace.”
Naidoo adds that women also need to know that they have the right to ask for female safety wear from their procurement officers and that they should not accept safety wear that is not designed for them.
Brands are working towards developing something specifically for women through their designs to ensure that they feel good and are comfortable while they work, she concludes.