• Jodi Huettner

Speak UP in your Daily JSA

As a woman who's worked on many industrial sites as the consulting field engineer, I am very familiar with health and safety tailgate meetings - the ones that start at the crack of dawn and go over the job's goals for the day as well as every conceivable associated health and safety risk the team can come up with (JSA = Job Safety Analysis).


Unlike some, I am a huge fan of these meetings and the mantra-like repetition of the daily job hazards - constant gardening is the only way to stay mindful and diligent of your job, and of your surroundings.


Anyways, I digress... there's a point in every tailgate meeting when you discuss the hazards you might come across over the course of the day, and hands shoot up to claim the low hanging fruit:

"Slips Trips or Falls!"

"Like?"

"uneven ground"

"tripping hazards"

"tools, equipment"

"rails"

"ledges, sills"

"ladders"


...and the list goes on.


Out of all the things the team saw and could easily think of, it bothered me that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was rarely mentioned, because I found it affected me every day.


Loose or untied shoes were occasionally identified as potential hazards, but not gloves too big to work in, or hard hats that fall off of the head as soon as you bend over, even on the tightest setting. OR loose fitting, long-legged coveralls, with a crotch hanging down so low you can't bend your knee to climb a stair let alone a ladder, and with a shoulder span so wide that you can't reach your arms over head without the seam bearing down annoyingly or even painfully on your mid-delts.


This means that we weren't discussing a huge potential hazard for women on site who are stuck wearing coveralls designed for men's hip-to-height and shoulder span-to-height body proportions.


I started writing this blog post the moment I read this article, which gives statistics from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety on Slips Trips and Falls, saying that they account for no less than 60,000 workplace injuries per year in Canada - 15% of all time-loss injuries accepted by workers’ compensation boards or commissions across the country.


Those are scary statistics.


In this photo, you can see that this tradeswoman has to pull her sleeve up every time she works over head, unless she wants to feel the entire weight of the coverall and her tool belt cutting across her mid-shoulder, or even her biceps. Yes, these are the coveralls that are the closest fit to the rest of her body.


We need to start speaking up about how wearing PPE designed to fit men's body proportions is leaving a lot of women open to risks that aren't being openly identified on site. If you see something like this, or are experiencing something like this, speak up!

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Personal protective equipment needs to be designed for women to encourage dignified, healthy practises and overall wellness.

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