Offering Women's Sizing Is a Win for All

June 2022

Fit. Functionality. Comfort. These are absolute must-haves for any worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) on the job. Yet for many women in the workplace, finding PPE that fits well can be like climbing Mount Everest!

A Growing Number of Women

In 2021, women comprised 11% of construction workers, nearly 8% of truck drivers, and 29% of manufacturing employees (Bureau of Labor Statistics), and their numbers in these fields continue to increase. Despite the growing numbers, the pickings remain slim for PPE in women’s sizes.

Women Leaders Speak Out

Our interviews with women in transportation, construction, and manufacturing confirm this grim truth.

“It’s difficult to find PPE that fits women because there is limited availability of these products, or suppliers do not offer them at all,” says Brandy Bossle, CSP, ASP, CSD, owner and principal consultant at Triangle Safety Consulting LLC. “We really need suppliers to go out of their way to offer PPE that’s cut for both men and women.”

Private fleet driver and Women in Trucking Image Team member Carol Nixon agrees, saying, “You can find men’s hats, gloves, jackets and safety vests everywhere, but not with a female fit.”


Measurements Matters

Let’s face it. In many cases, women are shaped differently from head to toe — their faces, shoulders, waists, fingers and toes are often narrower, and they often have shorter torsos, among other differences.

In order for PPE to fit many women comfortably and properly, these proportions need to be taken into account. In fact, OSHA states on its website that PPE used by women should be based on female body measurement data and that employers should offer PPE in sizes suitable for women.

Still not convinced? National Center for Health Statistics data from 2015-2018 reveal the following differences, on average, between men and women 20 years or older:

Remind Employees of The Importance of Proper Fit With This FREE Poster

The Bottom Line

Whether women prefer to wear PPE in women’s sizes or in men’s, they need to have the option of either sizing for their personal safety and comfort.

“Employers should have both women’s and men’s cuts of PPE available without anyone having to ask for them,” says Bossle. “We need to be proactive in ensuring we have all sizes and buy from companies that see the importance of inclusion.”