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Size matters

14 August 2019

WE'VE ALL heard the jokes, but let’s look seriously at the issue of size here. Before your mind runs away with you, I’m talking about workwear & PPE - clothing, footwear, eyewear, respirators, gloves etc.

Everyone knows their foot size. They’d know their waist measurements and most likely their leg length. They’d also be close enough when guessing what shirt, blouse or jacket they may need. What about your hand size……..Anyone???

You couldn’t nor would you work in a safety boot that was 2 sizes too big or small. Neither would you be able to work effectively if your overalls were ill fitting, flapping around at your wrists or pulled halfway up your legs. However when it comes to hand protection, seemingly one size fits all. That said I’m yet to meet the man or woman with a hand that looks remotely like your average cotton chrome rigger glove.

This is an important issue. Your hands are probably your most important & productive work tool. An incorrectly sized glove will impede your ability to do your job, and if you are an employer, it will inhibit productivity, potentially cause accidents and have a negative impact on bottom line. Wait, I hear you say. We offer our workers sizes 9 AND 10. We even have some size 8’s for that guy in the press shop with the freakishly small hands. But I ask you to consider the changing face of the industrial workplace. 30 years ago, the average factory floor was almost exclusively a male dominated environment. This is no longer the case.

Women now make up over 45% of the UK workforce. In a recent ONS Labour Force Survey on behalf of YouGov they found that there are 14.4 million women in the UK workforce. The same survey found that the fastest growth areas for employment for women were the traditionally male dominated sectors of agriculture, mining, manufacturing & construction – all areas where glove use is mandatory.

Within the construction industry, data released by the Office for National Statistics shows that the total amount of female construction workers shot up 9.9% year on year to hit 277,000 in December 2015, approximately 13% of the total workforce in the sector. This is clear evidence that construction projects, tasters and on-site placements for women and girls to enter the industry are opening the doors to a more diverse workforce.

Diversity in roles of the women working in the construction industry still requires action. Currently, there are:

However, this trend is likely to continue to change with some third level courses in traditionally male dominated trades, such as tiling showing a gender split of almost 50/50 for new applications.

The role of women in the workplace is rightly celebrated, but how many manufacturers of PPE actually make product tailored to fit women specifically. Do employers provide them with appropriately sized PPE or are they expected to attempt to work in gloves 2 or 3 sizes too big? Do you as an employer, an EHS professional or a PPE specialist expect female staff or customers to work to their best of their ability while they wear an ill-fitting glove rolled up at the cuff to make it a little tighter and better fitting? One thing to bear in mind is that the circumference of a safety glove in size 7 is between 178-203cm. Standing 5’4”, a woman’s hand will on average have a circumference of around 156cm. So, how can you provide adequate hand protection for those with small hands if your glove supplier only provides gloves in sizes S-XL?

Only ATG MaxiFlex gloves come in 8 sizes from 5 (XXS) to 12 (XXXL), with all other styles available from 6 to11. ATG are the only manufacturer to provide a hand protection solution for your entire workforce, male and female. A range of gloves that truly enhance the most valuable working tool – the hand. Because regardless what anyone says, size really does matter.

For more information on ATG gloves or to request a free of charge glove survey, including an onsite fitting session please click on the link below.