Female North Sea staff at risk from ill-fitting PPE

Oct. 15, 2021
Personal protective equipment supplier Red Wing has called for the North Sea offshore sector to improve the safety of women’s kit.

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK – Personal protective equipment supplier Red Wing has called for the North Sea offshore sector to improve the safety of women’s kit.

The company claims that female personnel are being put at risk by being given men’s PPE, leading to many having to roll up coverall legs and sleeves, or to wear inappropriate footwear.

Potential hazards include sleeves getting snagged in machinery, slipping, trips and falls caused by long trouser legs. There could also be issues associated with flash fires if clothing does not fit properly, the company added.

According to a recent survey by the AXIS Network, in partnership with Step Change in Safety, 62% of women said their coveralls did not fit properly, while 51% said their outerwear / jacket was not correctly sized.

Dez Young, senior HR of Red Wing Shoes, said: “Over 70% of our customers feature women’s-fit PPE in their safety programs, which shows that availability and price isn’t the issue. However, the kit is still not reaching those who need it.

“We know from our research that women working offshore and the purchasing teams buying products on their behalf, don’t fully understand why women’s PPE is so important. They also aren’t aware of the tools they need to find the right fitting coverall for them.”

Red Wing has produced a Right Fit Toolkit, with a visual sizing guide and correct fit instructional video for offshore companies to ensure staff obtain the correct equipment.

Young explained: “There is a need to educate procurement departments to enable them to offer the right kit to the right people. We want women to know the PPE they need is available, but they shouldn’t have to wait to be offered it.”

The issue was highlighted at The Right Fit event, held in collaboration with Wood, the OGUK Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce, AXIS Network, Harbour Energy, Step Change in Safety, East of England Energy Group, and the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health, in an attempt to tackle the challenges in accessing work wear and making offshore PPE more inclusive.