The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has launched a campaign to tackle the need for inclusive PPE in construction.
The CIOB #PPEthatfits campaign aims to work with PPE designers and manufacturers in the industry in making protective equipment suitable for all workers, including those of different gender, race, religion and disability.
CIOB president, Sandi Rhys Jones, launched the campaign after she became aware of women having issues with ill-fitting PPE, including boots, hats, gloves, trousers and jackets.
Employers are legally required to provide suitable PPE to their employees according to the Personal Protective Equipment At Work PPE Regulations 1992.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) found in a 2016 survey of women in construction that 57% of respondents said that their PPE sometimes or significantly affected their work.
Only 29% of respondents said the PPE they used was designed for women.
The minimum requirement for protective wear in construction follows the ‘5-point PEE’ model, which workers must wear at all times, according to the Considerate Construction Scheme (CCS).
These requirements include:
- Hard hat (to include a chin strap when working from height or in windy conditions);
- High visibility vest;
- Steel toe-capped boots;
- Safety goggles.
Women and minority groups can run into issues with this PPE if it is not the correct size, often too small, or does not fit physically around a worker’s head, e.g. for a woman wearing a headscarf or a man with a beard.
Ill-fitting PPE can put workers at risk of physical harm if hats and shoes are too big, and respiratory issues masks that do not fit.
The lack of inclusive provisions may deter women and minorities from joining the industry.
According to CIOB, women make up 15% of the UK workforce, only 2% working on-site, and BAME and disabled employees only make up 6%, respectively.
CIOB is working with its sister companies, CIOB People and Construction Management (CM), on the campaign, with the CIOB’s president aiming to see positive progress in the next 12 months.
“From my experience of working in a high-risk trade of working at height, where operatives have to wear harnesses, for example, I can’t find any analysis that looks at where those harnesses sit on a woman’s body or what the impact would be if they were involved in a fall,” said the director of strategy at ISG, Helen Gawor, at a recent CIOB People round table.
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