When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE) on construction sites, one size doesn’t fit all. Women shouldn’t be asked to compromise their safety by wearing unisex vests, gloves, or goggles that are too large. It’s unsafe and unfair. That’s why Skanska has set out on a mission to help provide new, custom-built PPE for this growing part of its workforce.
According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the number of women working in construction trades increased by 17.6 percent between 2017 and 2018. And while PPE designed for a female’s body does exist, it’s not overly popular or widely used. Skanska wanted to change that by offering their female employees better fitting safety vests and gloves, but took it a step further. They ordered multiple vests and toured several project sites and offices to solicit feedback on fit, accessories, and material. The direct result of this feedback led to the creation of two customized vests that launch May 6th, the start of this year’s National Construction Safety Week.
After meeting with dozens of women employees, Skanska partnered with Colony Hardware and Radians, leaders in the PPE supplying and manufacturing space, to create a full line of off-the-shelf PPE tailored to women that will be available to Skanska employees nationwide, as well as the entire industry. It is an unprecedented move for a construction firm and one that we hope will encourage others in our industry to take similar steps. Skanska’s goal is to raise the bar for safety across the industry and to drive change that results in inclusive, injury-free job sites around the country.
“All of our employees and subcontractors should be outfitted with the safest personal protective equipment possible. Nothing matters more to us than safety,” said Jarrett Milligan, Vice President Environmental Health and Safety for Skanska USA’s Northeast Region building operations.
“Skanska went above and beyond to solicit feedback from their workforce to develop an off-the-shelf safety vest that is much more versatile, comfortable, and protective for women onsite. We’re thrilled to partner with Skanska on this important initiative that will improve safety for the overall industry,” said Michael Weiner, President of Colony Hardware.
“This has been an exciting process for us. We haven’t worked with a construction company to this degree to custom create a safety vest that’s truly designed with its users in mind,” said Bill England, President of Radians.
To read more about this initiative and other thought leadership stories, please visit Skanska’s Constructive Thinking Blog.