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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

From the Mag - Increased choice at the heart of inclusive PPE

Clare-Louise Lipinski Head of HSE for Transportation at Jacobs explains why inclusive PPE is a must for our sector.

It can be a guessing game to choose the right sized clothing.

While an ill-fitting jumper at home may provide nothing more than a little discomfort, at Jacobs we understand work clothing not fit for purpose can stop an individual bringing their full selves to work safely and confidently.

That is why I’ve been working alongside talented individuals to create a drive behind Inclusive Personal Protective Equipment (IPPE).

This has led us to take transparent action on our commitments to provide measurable change, both in our company and in the communities we serve.

We strive to create a workplace where our differences are accepted, celebrated and harnessed in order to deliver the extraordinary solutions our clients and stakeholders demand and deserve.

We hope our culture of inclusion and impactful progression in all aspects of the workplace

— a culture we call TogetherBeyond℠ — can be expanded into the wider industry.

"When treating yourself to some new casual attire, would you choose ‘men’s small’, ‘women’s medium’ or maybe a ‘women’s large’?"

During an Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) workshop in October 2021, employees shared personal experience and highlighted areas where members of some of our Jacobs Employee Networks

had encountered difficulty in getting appropriate and comfortable PPE.

Our Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Team worked with employees to develop a more inclusive approach to meeting our PPE requirements.

Jacobs Senior Safety Advisor John Newman, said: “We identified the need to improve the labelling of items, with more emphasis on size and fit, rather than on specific genders,” John said.

“There are currently significantly more items available for men than women – and that’s across the whole of the industry – so there’s an important requirement to provide a broader range for all.

“Some specialist items, such as flameretardant clothing, are not available in sizes and fits that meet specific, personal requirements.

“And, inconsistent genderisation of products currently available means sizes can be inconsistent.”

At the heart of our IPPE is increased choice.

Our supplier fully supports our objective of creating a more inclusive approach to meeting PPE commitments and, working collaboratively, we’re making both short and long-term changes.

“From a well-being perspective, we want people to be confident in bringing themselves to work,” John said.

“If you’ve got anxiety because you’re working in a hazardous environment and can’t even get PPE to fit, it’s going to have a negative effect on your performance as well as your mental and physical health.

“A prime example given to us was from an individual who couldn’t get the right fitting flame-retardant PPE – previously they may have had to choose a slightly smaller sleeve to avoid obstructing their hands, which exposed their wrists, increasing the risk of an incident.

“We know these small details are being missed across the whole industry and we’re

now progressing to make positive changes.

“We, as a company, have a duty of care to every single one of our employees, no

matter their gender, “Yes, we and hopefully all other companies meet the legal requirement to provide PPE, but it’s about going above and beyond that.”

With support from our employee networks and PPE supplier, we’re making positive changes under our IPPE drive.

These include making our supplier’s entire range easily accessible via an online portal; creating a bespoke service for individuals who cannot find a comfortable fit with standard sizes; and making sizing and fitting charts available when ordering PPE, as well as traditional male/female sizes.

We are also introducing our supplier’s internal range, ensuring standard and consistent sizing for all products.

Launching in spring, this will give staff confidence that the size and fit ordered will meet their needs

John added: “Thirty years ago these things may not have even been considered and

thankfully we as an industry are starting to make change.

“I’m proud to say Jacobs is part of that movement to hopefully inspire the whole industry to make I&D a priority. It is the right thing to do.”

TogetherBeyond℠ is our approach to living inclusion every day, embracing all perspectives and collaborating to make a positive impact globally. Creating a culture of belonging where our differences are accepted, celebrated and harnessed – a culture where everyone can thrive.

To read the full magazine click here

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