SPOA Women in Plant group promotes PPE for female workers

THE Women in Plant (WiP) group of the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) has teamed up with high-vis workwear supplier Leo Workwear to promote suitable PPE and clothing for women in the plant industry.

The WiP group approached Leo Workwear to find solutions to the challenge of finding safety and high-visibility clothing that fit women well and is safe to wear on worksites.

Leo Workwear has now provided a range of items carrying the logo of the Women in Plant group, with SPOA offering the clothing to women known to the association ahead of ScotPlant 2024, where the full range was showcased.

The range of clothing, which has been developed by an all-female team based upon years of feedback and trials, includes trousers, base layers and vests. Included are items for pregnant women, as well as items made from lighter, breathable materials for women going through the menopause. Modesty tunics have been developed with safety in mind for those from certain religions.

Matt Higham, national account manager at Leo Workwear, said, “Everyone should be able to do their job with the appropriate safety equipment, and suitable clothing and PPE is no different. In the past, it has simply not been profitable for providers to develop and manufacture PPE for women, who make up a smaller percentage of the workforce, but we think this is not right and women should be provided with appropriate clothing for the same price. That’s why we’ve worked with women to develop clothing that fits, is comfortable, functional and, importantly, helps keep them safe on site.”

The clothing is made using recycled materials, resulting in a 50% reduction in carbon emissions.

Matt added, “In the past, women on worksites have been forced to roll up men’s clothing in an attempt to get them to fit, in turn risking entanglement in machinery or reducing the visibility of the clothing. Through focus groups, we have refined and improved our products.

“For example, items need to stretch and fit well to enable functional movement; various lengths are available as leg length can vary significantly amongst women even if they wear the same size; and pockets need to be as big as they are on men’s clothing as they are carrying the same tools.

“Additionally, regulatory standards must be met for items such as high-visibility clothing. These standards set a minimum area of high visibility fabric on view on the wearer – something that may be more difficult on smaller sizes, so we can mix items such as tops and trousers to ensure the wear is compliant.

“Even coveralls have been developed and zip into two parts to make them easier for women. It’s all about identifying any issues women may face with the clothing and making life easier so they can get on with doing their job.”

Zaya McMillan-Grant from the SPOA’s Women in Plant group added, “It is fantastic that the industry is evolving and recognising that for PPE and clothing it isn’t a case of ‘one size fits all’. By working with Leo Workwear and wearing its clothing ourselves, we hope the Women in Plant group and those who took up this opportunity will be trailblazers for the industry in Scotland and encourage employers to reassess the PPE and clothing they provide for female employees. It is paramount that we keep all those working on sites safe, regardless of their gender.”

Zaya McMillan-Grant

The full Leo Workwear range is available to order through Highland Industrial Supplies with an exclusive WiP discount. You can email workwear@hisltd.co.uk for details.

The range will next be showcased at Highland Industrial Supplies open days in Inverness on the 6th and 7th of June.

Any employers or employees interested in the WiP range of workwear can find out more by emailing WiP@SPOA.org.uk.