Safety at work is a top priority for any business, and a key part of this is ensuring that all workers have access to correctly fitting Personal Protective Equipment. While historically it may have been that dangerous roles requiring specialist protection such as Arc Flash garments were almost always filled by men, this has not been true for many, many years.

The number of women in roles where PPE is vital to their safety increases year on year, with industries such as construction, utilities, and power generation actively working to encourage more females into the workforce in a diverse array of roles. When females are considering entering these industries, inclusion is important, businesses that acknowledge the different requirements of individual body types will attract, nurture and retain a confident workforce, and be a shining light to new talent.

An Arc Flash occurs when an electrical discharge travels through the air and releases an intense burst of energy. This flash is capable of causing serious harm to anyone caught by it, so adequate Arc Flash protection is of the utmost importance. As more females are employed in roles where the risk of Arc Flash is exposed it is crucial that they are as fully protected as their male counterparts.

Whilst in the “real” world, there has been an acknowledgment of the natural biological variances between the body shapes and fit requirements of male and female garments, the specialist PPE market has largely continued to provide PPE solutions designed for the stereotypical male body type and businesses have provided these same garments to both their male and female employees as acceptable adequate protection.

Concerningly the approach of providing traditional male design and fit garments to women leaves the female workers at risk, which in turn leaves businesses exposed as it is their legal responsibility to ensure that they provide their employees with suitable PPE, regardless of gender. With more women entering previously male-dominated industries, it is important that businesses adapt and provide fitting protection. Beyond the increasing risk of discrimination that could arise for supplying less than adequate PPE based on gender specific women’s PPE, women have the right to work in garments that maximise their protection rather than contribute to a compromise in it.

Ill-fitting PPE poses several risks to any wearer, garments that don’t fit or are not comfortable are less likely to be worn correctly by the wearer, meaning that they are exposed to the dangers the kits should be protecting them from.

Not only can ill-fitting garments be discarded by the user and unworn, but they can also hinder the wearer’s range of movement leaving them unable to perform their role safely. In some instances, the wrong garments can even inflict injury on the wearer.

ProGRAM has one of the widest ranges of female-specific arc flash garments on the market. After all, they are the arc flash specialist. When it comes to PPE, they firmly believe that the end user must be a priority in the design and development of each product. This commitment has brought them to be the first choice for Arc Flash protection for a wide range of industries. They have a team of designers that ensure that they are not only developing the best fit garments for the typical male body but ensuring that their women’s garments are specifically designed for the requirements of females.

Vitally, the ProGARM design team has females designing the garments for female wearers. This means that the designers really understand the nuances that exist between menswear and what is really needed in womens wear. They are able to design not just protective garments but translate these protective garments into fits that empower the female wearers, giving them items that allow them to perform to their best ability, safely, while looking smart.

“Our key focus is ensuring that we design and manufacture Arc Flash PPE garments that workers actually want to wear. This way we minimise the risk of garments being cast off or not worn correctly which leaves the person exposed to life-threatening, possibly even life-ending injury.”  Says Lorraine Costello, Product Developer at ProGARM. “When it comes to developing PPE for female workers, it isn’t enough just to shrink male garments into a smaller size. When we are designing our womens garments we look at the different body proportions such as chest, waist, and hips and design around their longer torso. We also look at the smaller details such as the wider range of motion of female joints such as elbows and shoulders to make sure protection is placed correctly and garments aren’t restrictive.”

But great garments are not just about comfort and fit. They need to protect to the highest level too.

ProGARM ensures that the Arc Flash protection is not compromised in the design tweaks that occur, on the contrary, the ProGARM team is very aware that the stereotypical female body is actually at greater risk when it comes to an Arc Flash. Adrian Jaoudat, Head of Product Development at ProGARM explains “When an Arc Flash occurs, the level of injury sustained increases the closer an individual is to the incident. In general, a female worker is shorter and with shorter arms meaning they are generally closer to the energy impact and at risk of sustaining greater injury.”

It is not just outerwear that ProGARM have committed to creating in gender variant fits. Base layers are critical to Arc Flash protection. Although non-melting clothing (such as cotton, wool, silk and leather) may sometimes be allowed as a layer under an outer arc-rated protected garment, this type of clothing offers no protection against ignition and could cause serious burns in a fire or arc flash incident. And so, the ProGARM team have created a wide range of male and female base layers including an Arc Flash bra, an often unthought-of item, that in an incident could cause serious injury.

Just like their men’s garments, ProGARMs women’s range is made from their latest VXS+ fabrics, and manufactured and tested for minimal shrinkage and low colour washout. And because the Arc Flash protection is 100% inherent to the garment, the instant extinguishing Arc Flash protection won’t wash out either. This means that the garments have inherent protection for their full life cycle. ProGARM female garments not only look great but also give peace of mind that comes with knowing you are protected too.

All ProGARM garments feature firm, safe, heat-resistant zippers, poppers, and other components, which are manufactured using military-grade plastic, they will continue to function even after an Arc Flash incident with specifically designed and shaped trousers, polo shirts, and coveralls.

Mandarin collars, Velcro-secured cuff tabs, and adjustable waistbands make the garments customisable to the wearer for enhanced comfort. Given the excellent fit, internal knee pad pockets can accommodate flame-resistant foam knee pads, easy stretch side panels, aid movement, and well-designed pockets, accessible when wearing a safety harness, are just some of the ways ProGARM garments are designed to work for each wearer.

It isn’t just the male and female body sizing that makes ProGARM the inclusive range of choice. The team have created a range that comes in short, regular, and tall across sizes XS to 5XL making it the most versatile range of Arc Flash PPE available today. Not only that but should you have individual team members that have unusual or specific size requirements ProGARM can utilise their own manufacturing facilities in Europe to make garments to their bespoke fit. That way every member of your team will receive the same level of protection from wearing ProGARM Arc Flash garments.

The innovators in PPE, ProGARM are committed to staying one step ahead of industry requirements and continue to review their product ranges to be as inclusive as possible by never compromising the comfort of the wearer.