Investing in Women: the Importance of Tailored PPE

Amidst the global celebration of International Women’s Day, a powerful call to action resounds: ‘Invest in women, Accelerate progress.’ Here at Bouygues UK, we are doing just that.

One of the ways we are doing so is by ensuring our women have access to appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – a critical necessity that many women in construction are not always afforded.

Although regulations mandate employers to provide PPE, the emphasis has historically been on standardised sizing, primarily designed for male proportions. This one-size-fits-all approach has overlooked the diverse needs of women in construction, resulting in discomfort, impediments to work efficiency, and, most alarmingly, compromised safety.

A survey conducted nearly a decade ago by prominent organisations, including the trade union Prospect and the TUC, unveiled the statistic that 57% of women encountered challenges with their PPE. This finding underscores an industry-wide issue that, regrettably, persists even today.

In early 2023, Bouygues UK identified shortcomings in the PPE supplied by our vendor at the time. Determined to rectify this, we embarked on a transformative journey dedicated to sourcing superior alternatives, with a firm commitment to sustainability and inclusivity. We engaged in a thorough evaluation exercise, involving a diverse range of stakeholders. Samples from various suppliers were rigorously tested, with feedback from our women across the company and in a variety of job functions.

Today, we are delighted to announce our partnership with OnSite Support, the clear frontrunner emerging from this selection process. OnSite Support distinguishes itself by offering a comprehensive suite of comfortable and sustainable PPE tailored to the needs of both women and men. Since our collaboration began, we have actively collaborated with them to explore innovative avenues for expanding our range of inclusive protective gear.

Recognising the unique requirements of expectant mothers, Bouygues UK has taken proactive measures to include maternity-specific PPE in our collection, such as expandable jackets. Embracing a layered approach, our selection allows for adaptability to seasonal changes, offering a variety of jackets from softshell to waterproof and insulated options. This commitment underscores our unwavering dedication to safeguarding the wellbeing and comfort of every member of our workforce.

Since the launch in mid-2023, Bouygues UK has been promoting the use of this new PPE range, emphasising its superior safety standards. Notably, efforts were extended to address sizing issues with other items such as gloves.  Through a comprehensive campaign, we ensured every staff member received properly fitted gloves.

The monthly reviews we have with OnSite Support ensure refinement based on staff feedback, reinforcing our commitment to providing safe and suitable PPE for all. Bouygues UK remains dedicated to investing in women within the construction industry, accelerating progress by championing inclusivity and sustainability in every aspect of our operations.

Watch below as Senior H&S Manager, Danielle Coppell and Assistant Site Manager, Sophie Ennis share how their PPE has dramatically impacted the way they work.

Bouygues UK