Everyone Deserves to be Protected and Comfortable – PPE is Finally being Designed Especially for Women

Cromwell has been at the forefront of safety and health for almost a decade, leading the way in sourcing and distributing quality products to a wide network of organisations throughout the UK, Ireland, Europe and further afield into South Africa and Asia Pacific.

Cromwell’s ongoing research into PPE led them to look more deeply at the industry, researching the breadth and depth of what was available, and required, by continually talking to our customers and understanding their changing needs.

Changing the world of PPE

Drilling deep into what workers and safety professionals truly needed from PPE, across the broad spectrum of industry, alerted Cromwell’s experts to some seemingly obvious shortfalls that until now, didn’t appear to have been addressed.

Traditionally, many industries and professions requiring workwear have been male dominated. As a result, the focus of design has primarily been on meeting the needs of male workers meaning that items designed specifically for females have been missing from the market. And because workwear, footwear, head protection, and more are predominantly designed for the average male worker, women’s needs were not being met.

Our research told us that garments such as trousers, jackets, gloves, and headwear didn’t align to the female form and were often uncomfortable and impractical to work in. Footwear wasn’t fitting the form of the female foot, and tops especially weren’t allowing for the female shape.

In answer to the growing need for inclusive solutions Cromwell has elevated the importance of gender-inclusive products by creating Halo PPE, their own brand of PPE that’s comfortable and fits well while it protects. The range is a specially designed and sourced collection of high quality and reliable PPE, with inclusivity and sustainability at its heart, and including items specifically designed for women.

Each of your people, female or male, has specific needs and requirements and they all deserve to be protected and comfortable in their work. And so with safety, health, and compliance at the top of all business’ agendas, how can anyone manage to achieve the goal of keeping everyone safe from harm if individuals can’t find PPE to fit? Compliance due to suitability is a clear issue and Cromwell are on a mission to change that!

Created specifically for women

Cromwell’s industry leading team predominantly consists of women within the roles of product development, product design, and garment technology. Here, our in-house designer explains how she’s developed Halo so that it specifically meets the needs of women, and men, in industry:

“As a team we have sought the views of a wide demographic of people working in the health and safety arena to gather their views around what they need, and want, from PPE. We’ve conducted surveys, interviews, and focus groups to collect these valuable insights. And taken time to really understand the difference in roles, work environments, and the specific challenges faced by both sexes.

“We’ve put a huge emphasis on comfort and fit. With the varying shapes and sizes of women’s and men’s bodies, it was clear to us right from the beginning that putting this at the forefront of our thinking would be key to the success of the brand. And our research only served to reinforce our thinking. We found that both men and women require specific things in their workwear and so we’ve considered factors like flexibility, breathability, ease of movement, and sizing options to accommodate all body types – these are all aspects that our focus groups told us were essential to them when choosing workwear and PPE.”

Designed for life

“Our insight also told us that the life stages experienced by women impact them in so many ways. Understanding those needs and challenges is key to designing garments that are suitable for each of those stages whether that be pregnancy, menopause, or something else.

“For the fluctuating body temperatures often experienced by women in menopause, we wanted to design garments that would offer confidence, breathability, and comfort, especially in higher temperatures. Halo garments are made with breathable fabrics that feature moisture-wicking properties to help manage thermal comfort. And we’ve consciously chosen fabrics that are soft, lightweight, and gentle on the skin as some women report experiencing increased sensitivity during

menopause. We are also introducing a back neck print to garments to exclude the need for labels which often irritate. And we have plans to introduce maternity wear, beginning with tops.

“Most of the industries we supply, such as manufacturing and aerospace, have strict safety regulations. To ensure we address these requirements, we’ve incorporated things such as high visibility fabrics and reflective panels, additional protective layers, and reinforced areas. Halo also considers functional features such as the inclusion of ample pockets, robust closures, durable materials, and easy maintenance. And what’s more, the range launching in the next few months will include items that are fully recyclable.”

Nicola Corfield, Halo’s garment designer, explained how she anticipates the range will benefit women in industry, she said: “One of the most rewarding aspects of creating workwear especially aimed at women is the positive impact it can have on their professional lives. By designing items that address the specific needs and challenges of men and women I hope we can boost their confidence, comfort, and overall job satisfaction. Knowing that my designs contribute to empowering people in the workplace is amazing.”

Our sustainability mission

A crucial aspect that was clear to us all was that packaging used by much of the industry , ourselves included, wasn’t sustainable. There were obvious improvements to be made. Because of this, we’re on a mission to ensure all the packaging we use is sustainable and so far, we’re making great progress. We’re continually evaluating our decisions in these areas and moving towards using more and more sustainable packaging along with sustainable fabrics in our garments that can be recycled.

We’re no longer using single-use plastic bags to wrap our clothing, instead using recycled and recyclable cardboard sleeves or plastic bags. We’ve removed plastic bags from our eyewear packaging, replacing them with microfibre pouches that can be used as cleaning cloths and protect the glasses which in turn will ensure they last longer. The materials used for our footwear range are sourced ethically –plus the recycled and recyclable packaging they use has allowed removal of one tonne of single use plastic from the environment per year.

Quality, central to our ethos

We understand the importance of high quality, complaint products and so rather than test our own products we batch test with the British Standards Industry (BSI). Whatever you buy from the Halo range, you can be assured that it’ll protect to the highest standards and perform as you’d expect.

be invaluable to the team developing the product range as it will allow us to capture feedback from our customers on fit, comfort and performance. As part of our customer research we discovered that a point of weakness with any safety boot is the laces, they often break well before the boot needs replacing. For this reason we include a free extra pair of laces with all our Halo footwear improving longevity for the wearer.

Halo’s Metatarsal Safety Trainer was named a finalist in the British Safety Industry Federation. Product Innovation PPE category, Halo was a finalist for SHE Awards Campaign of the Year, and Cromwell was ‘Commended’ as SHE Distributor of the Year.

Neil Jowsey, Managing Director of Cromwell, said: “I genuinely believe Halo is the future of safety. No one else is developing PPE in the way we are. It certainly sets us apart from our competitors.

“We’ve created a brand with equity and sustainability at its core; 1% of our sales are being donated to charitable organisations – Mind UK’s Work for Good campaign and The Diversity Trust – that align with that ethos. We believe that everyone deserves to be protected, safe, and comfortable at work whatever their body shape, personal requirements, or religious sensibilities – and we’re bringing them the first range of PPE to do just that.”

Cromwell has been established for over 50 years and is a supplier of maintenance, repair and operations type products, offering an unrivalled choice of products to all industries, professions and trades. From cutting tools to personal protection products and from precision equipment to abrasives and power tools, our extensive range brings together all the major brands and more in an unrivalled selection available from a single source. We also offer a diverse profile of technical and specialist support, which ranges from in-depth product expertise, to on-site solutions to enable you to maximise performance.