EHSDA Shorts: What are Your Thoughts on Ordering PPE for Women?

In this installment of EHSDA Shorts, Jennifer Hsu, MPH, CSP Senior Leader in Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) | Certified Safety Professional (CSP), shares her thoughts on ordering personal protective equipment (PPE) for women.

This clip was taken from a webinar titled “Creating an Inclusive PPE Program: Connected Tech, the Right Fit, and Change Management.” The full session is available for FREE on-demand.

Transcript (edited for clarity):

Question: What are Your Thoughts on Ordering PPE for Women?

Hsu: If you are an EHS practitioner and you’re looking to serve your workforce, how can you identify which vendors actually have what fits? And then oftentimes you are pigeonholed by what the employer has as their approved vendor, etc., but I think one of the points that Amy had mentioned, you see a mannequin and it has pink on it, I think that’s one of the things like when I was working in house for corporations, whether it was in consulting or whether I was employed full-time, the idea of “shrinking it and pinking it” was the main way of trying to meet a woman’s PPE needs and that just isn’t appropriate. Number one, not everyone likes pink and, number two, not everything needs to be shrunk. Just because that’s the stereotypical mindset, women are seen as like petite and just smaller than males, it doesn’t mean that that’s what’s needed, because just like men, we all come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and heights and we have all different needs. And whether it’s for women or other people who just need to have the PPE fit them, because they have a different handicap or disability, or they have a head covering or whatever it is, there hasn’t been PPE that serves the rest of the population. It seems to just be defaulted upon a certain standard of male and so I think that again having floated in this space it hasn’t changed and I can imagine just before we had even started our careers, it was a similar conversation. And so while it has incrementally gotten better, you do see a mannequin that has pink, I guess that’s a change from like even 20 years before we started our careers, it still does not seem like it’s enough and it’s not sufficient for what we actually do need.