Based on feedback from women in Skanska’s Boston, New York, and Seattle offices, the firm created two safety vest options—one with a tapered waist, the other with an adjustable elastic waist band—made from a breathable mesh material that makes the vest lighter and more comfortable in warm climates.
The number of women in the construction industry is growing. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, between 2017 and 2018 alone the number of women working in construction trades increased by 17.6%. The percentage of women classified as construction managers has also risen, from 5.9% in 2003 to 7.7% in 2018. As a whole, the percentage of women in the construction industry sits at 9.9%.
As the industry evolves and the number of women within it grows, it has become obvious that the personal protective equipment (PPE) these professionals use on a daily basis has not kept pace. PPE—meaning safety vests, gloves, and goggles—are oftentimes too large for many female professionals. PPE that doesn’t fit properly is not only failing to provide the level of safety intended, it could be actively creating dangerous situations.
That’s why construction giant Skanska USA decided to create a full line of PPE tailored to women, available to both Skanska employees and the construction industry at large, beginning with customized safety vests. Skanska and Colony Hardware, its PPE vendor in New York, created sample vests that they then sent to women from the company’s New York, Seattle, and Boston offices for feedback.
Their input was then implemented to create two tailor-made vest options: one with a tapered waist that removes the larger fit of original vests, and one that forgoes the tapered waist in favor of an adjustable elastic band around the waist. Both options are made from a breathable mesh material that makes the vest lighter and more comfortable in warm climates.