East Riding Council Votes to Urge Government to Enforce Inclusive PPE in Key Industries

Members of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council have voted to correspond with the government, urging it to make it mandatory for STEM industries (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to provide inclusive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The vote took place on Wednesday, February 21, when a motion before the council acknowledged widespread inequalities in the provision of PPE among minority groups, particularly women, in STEM industries.

Councillor Victoria Aitken, the council’s Cabinet member for children, families, and education, who proposed the motion to Full Council, said:

“We know that many women face a range of health and safety issues caused by ill-fitting PPE, with nearly 60% not receiving women’s specific PPE from their employers. “As a council, we want to play our part in trying to rectify this situation, and so we have voted to mandate the requirement for Inclusive PPE in all areas of our own council business and to actively encourage local businesses in the East Riding to mandate that requirement as well. “East Riding of Yorkshire Council is at the forefront of this national campaign, by offering inclusive PPE, and continuously adding items into the internal catalogue for staff to procure, as they become available on the market. “We will also now write to the government to encourage it to mandate the requirement for inclusive PPE within the PPE Regulations 1992.”

Katy Robinson demonstrating the difference between ill-fitting and fitting PPE.

Katy Robinson, who works for the council as a senior project manager and is also the campaign manager for the National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC), said:

“Inclusive PPE does exist and is available, but it can be very difficult to get managers across the various industries to procure it. The aim of the national campaign by NAWIC Yorkshire is to address the widespread inequalities in PPE provision and design across the construction industry and beyond. “Ill-fitting PPE can cause a whole range of health and safety issues; for example, safety boots that don’t fit correctly are a trip hazard and can also lead to health issues like tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and Morton’s neuroma.

Women wearing gloves that are too big for them struggle to grip on handrails and ladders and to operate machinery. Some women then remove the gloves, which can lead to burns and other injuries. “High visibility clothing also has to be the right size, or else it can limit movement and cause real discomfort. In many cases, women wear oversized coats, which they are unable to fasten. Safety glasses that are the wrong size tend to steam up or, at worst, fall off, and of course, safety helmets must also be adjustable to fit correctly. “Another problem area is safety harnesses – they can be hard to adjust to make them fit for women, so this can create situations where women could fall out of the harness or suffer suspension trauma, or even have their circulation cut off.”

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