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!
Terri M. Piasecki
Chapter 92, Raleigh