Archive for July, 2009

Not all welding gloves are created equal and we understand how difficult it is to purchase gloves online. So our aim here is to provide some additional details about the women’s welding gloves offered at charmandhammer.com.

Keep in mind, charmandhammer.com does allow exchanges (and refunds) for any purchases so long as the items are new and unused with product tags attached (if applicable).  So if you inadvertently purchase the wrong size, know that they can be exchanged for a different size hassle free!

 

These are all "small" gloves marketed for women or small hands.

These are all "small" gloves marketed for women or small hands.

These are all small welding gloves from a variety of manufacturers with one thing in common – they are all  marketed for small hands.    The Weldas Comfoflex gloves have a unique patented lining which makes them difficult to manufacture any smaller – those are the largest of the small gloves.  
The next photo compares the three general purpose (blue) welders side by side so you can get a little closer look at the differences:
Womens General  Purpose Welding Gloves Comparison

Womens General Purpose Welding Gloves Comparison

 

Note that there is not a huge difference in sizing of  these women’s welding gloves – but there is a difference…. the Weldas on the left is slightly larger than the other two, but is the only one that is tapered somewhat. 

The Tillman small gloves are notably smaller, and the XXSmall pictured on the right is actually 11 inches long – unlike the other two that are 12 inches long. 
A number of customers have purchased these assuming they would fit children.    There are several reasons these don’t fit children.    The most obvious is that the fingers on all of these gloves are not short enough for children’s hands.      The other not so obvious reason comes from the safety manager in me –  children are not supposed to be exposed to welding fumes or any industrial hazards for that matter.  Now, I understand that life long welders want to pass on the tradition, but safety first please!!    

Fortunately, there is one harness available for women. Introduced by Miller Fall Protection (Sperian) in 1998, the Ms. Miller is the ONLY full-body harness on the market specifically designed to fit women. It was designed by two female engineers and is quite different than standard men’s fall protection harnesses. The Ms. Miller is modeled after a rock climber’s harness.

Keep in mind two major differences of the female body are the chest and pelvic areas. The Ms. Miller design addresses both of these differences quite adequately and is offered in a variety of sizes from XXSmall to XXLarge based on height, weight and waist measurements. In lieu of a cross chest style harness, this uniquely designed harness keeps shoulder straps at the side and away from the chest.

Though men have inquired about the comfort of this harness for them, the Ms. Miller is not recommended for men, as it is specifically designed for a woman’s body, particularly in the hip and pelvic area. As such, it distributes fall forces much differently than standard (men’s) harnesses. Support straps were added to the front of the harness connecting the leg straps to the waist strap. This reduces the outward forces or spread eagle, wishbone effect. In addition, the waist pad and leg pads relieve stress on the lower back.

The Ms. Miller meets ANSI A10.32, Z359.1 and CZA Z259.10-06 specifications.

FAQ:   Provided by Miller Fall Protection’s Tech Support

Q1: Are all other harnesses dangerous for women?  No. However they may not fit as well and may not have the features to eliminate stress on the lower hip/back area during a fall.

Q2: Is it easy to put on  the Ms. Miller?   Yes! Very Easy! Step through waist, raise shoulder straps, buckle the legs and chest straps. The leg straps utilize offset slotted mating buckles and the shoulder straps use friction buckles.

Q3: Where should the chest straps be worn? What is the recommended location?  The chest strap should be in the mid chest area, the same as recommended for other harnesses.  Use the chest strap to keep shoulder straps on shoulders – do not over tighten (adjust to shorten). Shoulder straps should stay at sides rather than coming up front of the torso.

Strategy and Planning Meeting for a National Survey

Submitted by Terri Piasecki, Attendee & Speaker on behalf of NAWIC

As requested, I attended the first Women’s PPE Needs: Strategy and Planning Meeting for a National Survey. This was a meeting held at the USDOL MSHA offices located in Arlington, Virginia on June 20th, 2006 from 9am to 4:30pm. Other groups, agencies and manufacturers represented at this meeting include: US Dept of Labor (DOL), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (CDC NIOSH), Dept of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health (DHHS OWH), California OSHA (CAL OSHA), Women in Mining (MSHA), Dept of Veteran’s Affairs (DAV), NASA, National Institute of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health (NIH ORWH), National Firefighter’s Association, HealthCare Industry, Police & Military, 3M technical service and more. The main objectives of this meeting was to gather as much information as possible about women’s personal protective equipment and the need for a national survey encompassing as many professions as possible; discuss a cost effective plan for launching and conducting the survey; determine what as a result of the survey will be done (i.e., publications, recommendations, etc). Attached is the background information provided to us by USDOL/MSHA in preparation for the meeting.

I have enclosed information I presented to the group on behalf of NAWIC. The construction industry is a small part of the sector needing personal protective equipment. The healthcare industry and food industry are just a couple of examples of other occupations where women are the majority and still in need of better fitting personal protective equipment. . Homeland security issues present an even more urgent need to provide appropriately fitting gear to first responders who are not the average (male) size!

A number of speakers presented information regarding women’s occupational health and safety issues. I have included copies of the agenda and presentations that were provided to us. Not to recap all of the speakers but a few points should be noted. Unlike the Cal OSHA survey conducted two years ago which is still being analyzed, this survey will be a national representation, and will include small stature men and a broader range of occupations where PPE is required. The Cal OSHA Survey was only women in construction and firefighting. Ms. Cuta, 3M OH&ESD Technical Service representative, discussed the steps NIOSH took in updating the anthropometric fit of respirators. NIOSH recently revised the size requirements used by manufacturers to better fit respirators. Linda Tapp of Crown Safety and Ms. Abrams, Women in Mining offered a vast array of safety issues pertaining to women. For instance, chemical absorption and ergonomics are significant issues for women especially while pregnant. Many of the attendees also offered their expertise commenting on other issues such as poorly fitted bullet proof vests for both police and military. Women’s torsos are much shorter than average men’s which makes is very uncomfortable if not impossible for women to sit while wearing these vests. On the other hand, the firefighters association has taken steps to ensure turn out gear is now sized for women, as well as stipulated that women’s firefighter footwear is made with a woman’s mold. There is still however, an issue with properly fitted SCBA’s for women, since fire departments must order all the same manufacturer SCBA’s for the entire crew.

At this point of the survey, it is still in the discovering stages. Much of the meeting was spent collecting information from various speakers as well as reviewing the CAL OSHA survey that was completed a few years ago in California as a basis for the formulation of this survey. All of those at the meeting were asked to review the preliminary survey and provide comments over time. The PPE subcommittee will do much of the work via email or other means of long distance communication. They anticipate at least another year or more before the survey is ready for distribution. The long range goal is to have the survey completely analyzed within five to seven years at a cost of one billion dollars.

As for funding this project, the subcommittee is counting on raising the funds for the project. They are accepting donations from manufacturers, both public and private agencies and associations, as well as individuals on all levels. They are researching the cost and options for conducting the survey, though at this point, the US DOL/Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) seems to be the direction they are going, from distribution to analyzing. They intend to survey about 5000 women and small stature men. I indicated to them at the time, that as just a member of NAWIC I didn’t have the authority to pledge financing but I was certain that NAWIC would assist circulating the survey to members and the NAWIC tradeswomen committee.

It was a pleasure representing NAWIC at this meeting and I truly appreciate the opportunity. Thank you!

Respectfully submitted,

Terri M. Piasecki
NAWIC Member,
Chapter 92, Raleigh

US DOL MSHA PPE SubCommittee Meeting June 20, 2006
1100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA

Intro –
Terri Piasecki, Owner of http://www.CharmandHammer.com Safety Gear for Hard Working Women, Representing National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Background includes: 25+ years in the construction industry; 6+ years in construction safety, 10+ years as a member of NAWIC.

Considerations
• If an employer must supply special equipment for women that is different than men or what they are already buying, this creates another obstacle for women gaining employment, especially in non traditional work such as construction. It is a short sighted view of course, but the fact is that many perceive this as a viable issue.
• Reaching tradeswomen for a survey will be a challenge since they are in the field most of the day and are not sitting behind a desk on a computer. Networking with tradeswomen associations such as NAWIC, Chicago Women in the Trades, NNET, etc. will be necessary to reach these women.
• The population in general has actually gotten larger, individually, since the size charts were established in the early days. Making products smaller to fit women is going to be a challenge.
• Finally, if a survey such as this takes more than five or more years to develop, implement and analyze, manufacturers will have an excuse to wait to revise the sizing options. Will this survey impede the progress already underway?

Many manufacturers are addressing the demand: -Though many manufacturers do not indicate which items are for women due to their perceived political correctness issues.
• AOSafety – the first major manufacturer to launch a line of women’s gear….directly targeting women, albeit “diy” women… but it’s a start!
• N95 disposables with adjustable straps (not stapled) for a better fit, others offer s-m-l sizes.
• Other facepieces (half mask) are offered small-med-large, some are semi universal. (And as we saw of the 3M rep, NIOSH has revised the respirator size chart)
• A Variety of Smaller Safety Glasses whose purpose is to fit smaller faces are readily available by almost every major manufacturer. Other safety glasses are designed with multiple adjusting points…brow bar, nosepiece, lens angle adjustment and temple length adjustment …the purpose is to universalize one piece of equipment…make it so that one style fits a wider variety of faces, small and large.
• Small Hard Hats are available, as are XLarge. (Only one manufacturer makes them) However, the standard size hard hat fits 40 head size increments from 6-1/2 to 8 which does a really good job at fitting most female users. Still some do need the small, but they are VERY few…. Probably not enough to warrant more manufacturers to make them or even distributors to stock them because they must be ordered by the case.
• Most fall protection manufacturers have models available for smaller workers, some recommend the crossover chest styles are women, though they don’t actually say they are for women in the catalogs (again a politically correct issue perceived by manufacturers). And of course, Ms. Miller the only fall protection harness specifically for women, has been available for several years.
• XXS, XS, & Small welding gloves are available for general purpose. Though no knowledge of welding helmets made for smaller heads/faces is available. Kiln gloves are still not available in size small (temp in excess of 1500 degrees F) but some items such as this are physically impossible to produce smaller due to the bulk of material required.
• Variety of sizes of ergonomic equipment (back supports, wrist supports, kneepads, etc). Back Supports are available from a 23” waist.
• A variety of Work Gloves, Police Gloves, Extrication Gloves, Mechanics Gloves, Ergonomic Support Gloves, Womens’ Impact, & Anti Vibe Gloves are all manufactured starting from a hand size of 6” and up. (Women’s sizing starts at 6”~measured around the widest part of the hand excluding the thumb).
• Variety of Earplugs targeting smaller ear canals are now on widely available.
• SCBAs with adjustable frames for different length torsos are manufactured, but the distribution channels make it nearly impossible for women to access. These are needed by several occupations other than firefighters, such as hazard waste remediation.

What is needed?
Footwear – but employers are not required to purchase workboots for employees. There are many manufacturers marketing workboots to women but they are really made on a men’s last (mold). To determine this, look for dual sizing charts in product descriptions. After a woman wears a man’s boot for several years, her foot will not fit into a women’s.

Issue with Safety Vests: ANSI requires a certain amount of square inches of hi viz background material and striping (depending on the ANSI Class), which prevents the manufacture of size small vests with ANSI certifications. Petite employees, so small that the smallest ANSI vest doesn’t fit, should not be placed directing traffic, working around heavy equipment or other areas where ANSI class vests are required. Safety should be put ahead of political correctness. Agencies and employers should be allowed to require minimum size (height/weight) of a worker to be allowed in hi viz required positions. If the smallest safety vest is still grossly oversized, it should be okay to say that the worker is just too small to be in that position without fear of a political correct issue (especially in government employers).

Other
PPE in general…the more user friendly the better, the more universal the better. Not everyone purchasing safety equipment is an employee! Employers are required to train employees how to use equipment… but this is the DIY generation. There are so many people are out there trying to educate themselves about respiratory protection, there needs to be consumer guidelines readily available.

Conclusion – The problem is plagued by many issues ~ but the biggest is distribution.
Not all women in need of PPE are in one locale. Geographically, they are spread across the globe! Which makes it difficult for local supply houses to stock inventory that isn’t going to move for a long time, especially when they are required to purchase by case, bulk or volume quantity. Manufacturers need to relax minimum order requirements for products sized outside of the average range.

The main manufacturers reach local supply houses via wholesale distributors. In most cases, the wholesalers stock volumes of products that move quickly. In general, wholesale distributors– don’t stock slower moving inventory (i.e. out of the ordinary sized gear) especially where a volume requirement is necessary. Most products are available via special order but a waiting period known as lead time, can be as long as 3 or 4 weeks.

Smaller, specialized manufacturers, are actually making ppe for women, but in general, they don’t go through the large wholesale distributors for various reasons. Their products never reach the majority of the local supply houses. Often times women’s sized item (or products for the diverse workforce) are discontinued because it is too difficult to market without a viable supply route.

Every industry has a different supply channel. For example, the scenario described above, applies in general to the MRO and construction industry suppliers. Government, Firefighters, and first responders all have different supply routes that also have obstacles to getting a variety of gear for diverse sizes.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate at this meeting on behalf of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).

Traditionally PPE for women has been offered at a minimum by a small variety of manufacturers. In 2002, when CharmandHammer.com began efforts to make safety gear for women readily available, there were literally only a handful of products offered in a size smaller than the standard men’s size. A couple of manufacturers confided to me that they purposely did not refer to those products as being for women because they were afraid it was not politically correct! Thus making it even harder for women and their employers to find them.
It is thrilling to be able to report since CharmandHammer.com started, we have a seen a shift in the products lines. More manufacturers are now offering gear for women, and a variety of it! Other manufacturers are making products more unisex in size and style (i.e. safety eyewear). Some of the sizing guidelines have been updated to reflect the sizing of the current population. That is the good news.
The supply chain process however is still based on an archaic system. From our point of view as a retail distributor, manufacturers create products; these products sit at the manufacturer until a wholesale distributor agrees to carry them and places an order. A product line that does not appeal to the masses (i.e. women’s) typically will not be stocked at the wholesale distributor level which in turn makes it difficult for retail distributors to promote them. Just as they did years ago, distributors will special order something they don’t stock, but that usually takes two to three weeks to come in. Three weeks is a long time to wait for safety equipment. Certain manufacturers require ordering a case or a box of a particular item which inhibits middle level distributors from stocking a variety of women’s gear that may take up space in the warehouse for a longer period of time than they are traditionally used to. The old saying “you can’t sell what you don’t have” still rings true. Then manufacturers see that the women’s gear isn’t moving, and in some cases, they discontinue it before anyone knew it even existed.
On the other side of the process, some manufacturers restrict distribution of their products to only retailers with brick and mortar stores. This stifles internet sales and prohibits companies like mine from carrying those products making them available to those who need it, outside my local area. Women’s gear must be sold online. There are not enough women in any local market to sustain the need to inventory the products on a local level. With the help of internet I reach hundreds of customers a week within that target market.
The above processes describe the typical routes for most industrial, commercial personal protective equipment. For our first responders, such as police officers, fire fighters, EMS, the supply chain is more difficult. In those cases, equipment is purchased under large contracts often specifying manufacturers to supply the entire department. Women get what is purchased for them based on what is good for the entire group, whether or not that manufacturer offers the best products for women.
In other situations, equipment compatibility forces companies to order all the same style gear for every member. For example, respirators need to be from one manufacturer so the filters and parts are compatible within the entire department or company. Wouldn’t it be nice to make respirator filters compatible across brands?
In addition, some standards dictate sizing restrictions for gear. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulates the color and amount in square inches of background material and reflective stripping necessary for safety vests. These minimums are based on research conducted that tells us how big an object must be, at certain distances for drivers to see them in time to react. If a very small or petite woman is near traffic, she had better be big enough to fit into an ANSI safety vest because- get this-employers really don’t like to say “no you can’t do that job because you are too small” in fear of a discrimination lawsuit. It is quite a controversial issue that surprisingly is not openly discussed. Issues like this need to be formerly resolved and employers need to be educated as to why safety vests and hi visibility clothing is the size it is. I’ve spoken to several people and heard first hand from women who have altered their safety vests to make them “fit better”. Granted, a garment that is too large can get caught in equipment, but someone needs to address the reason why these vests are too large. I’ve also been asked for pink safety vests, but pink is not an ANSI approved high visibility color. Unfortunately I have also talked with government transportation officials who experienced a fatality on the job of a woman who was extremely petite. Off the record, I was told that being a government employer they are not permitted to exclude her from that job position, due to discrimination. I personally find this morally troubling. If someone is just too small to been seen by moving traffic safety must trump discrimination.
There are many reasons women need safety gear to fit and function properly. The basic safety gear for construction includes eye, foot, hand, head, hearing protection as well as visibility clothing and in some cases respiratory protection is required. For both women and men a better fit, results in a more compliant employee. If an employee is wearing ill fitting, uncomfortable gear all day every day, it will negatively affect production. Ill fitting gloves could actually cause an accident, by getting caught in equipment for instance. Safety glasses constantly sliding down your nose, don’t offer much protection for eyes. A worker could actually fall out of a fall protection harness that is significantly too big. The need for proper gear is a necessity.
Over the past three years, Charmandhammer.com has shipped over 7000 orders worldwide. We still experience steadily increasing sales from year to year. We also see steady increases in employers shopping at CharmandHammer.com for their employees; entire EMS ambulance crews coming to us for women’s safety eyewear by the case; large numbers of women construction crews and habitat volunteers coming to us for volume discounts! It is an exciting time for hard working women with choices for functional, stylish safety equipment.
Perhaps you can suggest the topic of PPE for your next employer’s safety meeting. Have an assortment of PPE samples available for everyone to try. You will see that the same style of safety glasses will fit everyone differently; similar findings will also be seen for work gloves and other equipment! Employers that allow the purchase of different styles and sizes of gear experience payback in productivity. In addition, employees are more likely to take care of equipment they like. Their favorite pair of gloves or glasses is less likely to be found at the bottom of the gang box, reducing overall costs of safety equipment!

ConstructionNews.net April 2006, Vol 4, No. 4: Dallas- Ft Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Houston
Submitted by Terri Piasecki, owner Charm and Hammer

With over 25 years experience in the construction industry and over six years focusing exclusively on safety, I noticed that workers did not wear personal protective equipment nearly enough. From hand protection and eye protection to major equipment like fall protection, I constantly saw a battle between employers and employees in regard to safety gear.

I always asked workers, “Why don’t you wear safety glasses, gloves, etc?” They all had a different answer, but all of the answers shared a common thread. Excuse after excuse, the theme was usually proper fit.

Since most safety gear was made to fi t men, I thought, “If men aren’t happy with the way things fit, what about women?” That’s why in 2004 I started an on line company that provides safety gear and construction clothing for women. Most people can relate to the difficulty of working with gloves that are too large or too small. In addition to poor production, ill-fitting gear presents quite a hazard. Gloves that are too large risk fingers or hands getting caught in or pulled into machinery. Fall protection harnesses that are too large may result in a worker actually falling out of the harness. Safety glasses will slide down if not a snug fit. How does one weld with welding gloves that are hanging off the hand? When safety gear fits comfortably, workers wear it. This is the fundamental objective of every safety program. Most employers provide safety gear, especially gear that is specifically required for the job. However, it is more feasible for an employer to buy a case of gloves or glasses and require everyone to wear the same gear. The problem is one size does not fit everyone.

Some of the manufacturers have addressed this by designing gear that is fully customizable. For instance, safety glasses that can be adjusted five ways will fit a broad range of faces; fall protection harnesses that are calibrated for the weight of the worker incorporate an entirely new engineering design.

For women, the newest trend in work gear is style and color. It started years ago with wraparound safety glasses. Now, stylish and colorful work gear is exploding the marketplace – pink, purple, fuchsia and red to name a few of the popular colors with women.

My company’s biggest sellers are pink hard hats, pink tool belts, pink work gloves and pink safety glasses! Years ago, women in the field wanted to blend in. The new generation demands colors and fit!

Women’s coveralls are now available from two different manufacturers in a variety of colors and patterns. One has a hidden drop seat; the other comes complete with kneepads. Both are designed specifically to fit women. Before these became available, women would have to order men’s coveralls large enough to fit across the chest – but then the arms and legs would be too long.

Employers are encouraged to find a knowledgeable safety supplier, understand that a man’s “small” is not equivalent to a women’s “small,” and be willing to provide a variety of safety gear for their diverse work force. The best way to gain support for a safety program is by empowering employees with some of the decision making. Make personal protective equipment the topic of your next safety meeting. Have various samples available for employees to try. Everyone likes to be a product tester. Let them choose what they want to wear. Reward employees with premium safety gear.

A former safety manager, Terri Piasecki owns Charm and Hammer, an online source of women’s safety gear and construction clothing at http://www.charmandhammer.com

MANAGING SAFETY

Posted: July 18, 2009 in General Safety

With every new year comes a chance to reclaim your safety program. Every company gets to wipe the slate clean or at least their annual OSHA log! Hopefully your current OSHA log is still empty! As you tally up last year’s log, look for trends and compare to the previous five years’ logs. If you aren’t seeing improvements you need to evaluate your safety program!

Of course everyone knows management commitment is of utmost importance to any safety program. But words on paper and the real world can be two different scenarios.
Several key ways for management to show their commitment include:
• Allocate appropriate funds to provide the proper safety equipment required on the job (i.e. proper lift equipment, personal protective equipment, tools in good condition, etc.). Safety progress takes a nose dive when the proper tools and equipment are not available.
• Not just attend the safety meeting, be a participant! Management absent from safety meetings sends a message that safety is not important enough for them to take the time.
• Set a good example on site by following proper safety protocol. This includes, wearing appropriate PPE, use proper access to areas, etc. A “do as I say, not as I do” attitude will take your safety program back to the dark ages era!
• Commit to working with other contractors who show a positive safety attitude. If workers point out faults of subcontractors, take action. Subcontractor safety history should be taken seriously. Peer pressure from other contractors works!

How does your management commitment rate? Remember the old saying “seeing is believing”? When employees see management commitment they are more likely to believe it!

All safety programs need periodic review and revisions. Need a new safety program? Check your insurance carrier’s website, chances are they have a free, generic program you can start with. You can then customize it to fit your company’s specific needs according to the type of work you do.

No matter what your history is, resolve to take safety to the next level!

Article contributed by, Terri Piasecki, Owner of Charm and Hammer.com .