September 11, 2023 - Safety

Ensuring Safe Work Environments for All: A Call for Proper Fitting PPE

At AMCC’s inaugural AGM, a team of women shared why we need to better for women in the industry and enhance safety standards. In this guest blog, Carrie Quaschnick, Angela Hughes, Charlena Fong and Lina Nguyen share why current PPE is dangerous for women on job sites and discusses solutions.

In the realm of workplace safety, one issue has persisted for decades – the inadequacy of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when it comes to accommodating diverse body types. Historically, PPE has been designed primarily for Anglo-Saxon males, overlooking the unique anatomical needs of the female body and other individuals with varying body shapes. This longstanding issue has garnered renewed attention, with a recent report by the Canadian Safety Association (CSA) shedding light on the challenges faced by women in the workplace.

The PPE Dilemma

PPE serves as the last line of defense in safeguarding workers against occupational hazards. Thus, it is imperative that PPE provides a proper fit for all individuals. However, the current landscape reveals significant shortcomings:

Exploring the Options

To address this critical issue, several options have been considered. Among them, we believe one option is the most viable solution here in Alberta: Integration into Occupational Health and Safety Code. This option proposes the addition of specific wording to the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code (OH&S). The key components of this approach are as follows:


This option emerged as the preferred solution due to its ability to address the issue at its core, as it emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all workers, regardless of their body type, are protected with properly fitting PPE. The "shrink and pink" strategy is not enough; studies must guide the creation of PPE that fits various body sizes and functions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Isn't it already a right for employees to refuse unsafe work?

Yes, employees have the right to refuse unsafe work, but there is often a reluctance to do so due to fears of being perceived as different. An awareness campaign can break down these barriers and emphasize the importance of personalized PPE.

2. Will proper fitting PPE help reduce workplace injuries?

Data suggests that while safety measures have improved, there is still a disproportionate number of injuries among women. Poorly fitting PPE could be a contributing factor.

3. How does poorly fitting PPE lead to workplace injuries?

Ill-fitting PPE can expose workers to hazards, hinder mobility, and even create tripping hazards, all of which increase the risk of injuries.

4. Won't mandating specific PPE for women increase costs for employers?

Manufacturers indicate that prices will remain stable or decrease as demand for women-specific PPE increases. Mandating such PPE will boost demand, reduce production costs, and foster competition.

5. Is one year enough time for the industry to adjust to the new legislation?

Alberta's innovative industry can adapt to meet the new standards within the provided timeframe. Learning from headways made in other provinces will aid in this transition.

6. Are other countries including proper fitting PPE in their legislation?

Yes, several countries, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, have legislation that emphasizes the importance of properly fitting PPE.

by Carrie Quaschnick, Angela Hughes, Charlena Fong and Lina Nguyen