Are Canadian Women at Greater Risk Due to Poorly Designed and Fitting PPE?

TORONTO, November 16, 2022 – Statistics Canada estimates that 9.3 million women of working age participate in the Canadian labour market. However, a recent survey reveals that only six per cent of women say that the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they wear is designed for them. A new report published by CSA Group, Canadian Women’s Experiences with Personal Protective Equipment in the Workplace, offers an enlightening perspective on the current situation and reviews several gaps that need to be addressed.

The research, which includes a survey of nearly 3,000 Canadian women, shows that women report being disproportionately impacted by a lack of gender-responsive PPE. Over one third of Canadian women said that the PPE they use is designed for men, 85 per cent said that they have been hampered at work by their PPE, and approximately half indicated that they must adjust their PPE each time they put it on, or at least once per shift. To address these issues, women often pay out of pocket to source equipment that fits better, and 38 per cent incorporate a workaround to modify their PPE – using anything from rubber bands to duct tape. Nearly 40 per cent reported experiencing an injury or incident related to their ill-fitting PPE.

“Women are not just scaled down versions of men,” says Jennifer Teague, Vice President, Standards Research & Planning, CSA Group. “PPE needs to be designed with everyone in mind. This is why developing best practices are so important and can help in the transition from ‘one size fits all’ to more inclusive PPE. Standards, when informed by current and accurate anthropometric data, can set the roadmap for developing gender-responsive PPE to help improve the health, safety and protection of women in the workplace.”

The research outlines several gaps that are hindering the development of gender-responsive PPE, including the collection and availability of comprehensive Canadian-specific anthropometric data representative of the contemporary working population, and the need for consistent PPE regulation across Canada that explicitly and intentionally addresses the needs of women in the workplace. The research also identifies the opportunity for further coordination by government, standards development organizations, manufacturers, suppliers and workplace representatives to increase the availability and selection of PPE available to women.

CSA Group is committed to safety, social good, and holding the future to a higher standard – a future where female workers are equally considered and protected.”

– Mary Cianchetti, President, Standards, CSA Group

Mary continues, “In an era where we are seeing women leaving many different professions from health care to trades, having a more deliberate and inclusive approach to something as fundamental as PPE seems like an absolute necessity.”

CSA Group has started to assess its existing portfolio of PPE standards to determine opportunities for improvement as it relates to women. CSA Group is also working in lockstep with the standards development community to increase the representation of women in standardization and to strive towards reflecting the diverse needs of Canadians.

Visit CSA Group’s website to download Canadian Women’s Experiences with Personal Protective Equipment in the Workplace.

CSA Group is a global organization dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability. We are a leader in North American standards development and in product testing, inspection and certification around the world. Our mandate is to hold the future to a higher standard.

For more information, please contact:
Kimberly Gibson
CSA Group
[email protected]


November 16, 2022