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New initiative equips women in construction with properly fitting safety harnesses


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March 17, 2020 by On-Site Staff

Brittney Dejack of Christman Constructors in Michigan working from height on a recent project. PHOTO: Autodesk

More than 300 women at nearly two dozen construction companies across the U.S. will be working at heights more safely thanks to a new initiative led by tech firm Autodesk Inc. and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Officially launched March 2, the two groups highlighted the grant program in Las Vegas last week at CONEXPO-CON/AGG.

“We recognize the need for more women to join the construction industry to help fill the labor gap, and keeping them as safe as possible must be top priority,” said Allison Scott, director of construction thought leadership at Autodesk Construction Solutions.

“This is a first step in drawing attention to the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other customized equipment for women,” Scott added in a release.

Equipment makers 3M and MSA designed the new harnesses to fit women better than conventional devices. PHOTO: Autodesk

The grants cover more 300 safety harnesses designed by equipment makers 3M and MSA to fit women better than conventional devices. They will be distributed to 21 separate builders across the U.S.

While recruiting more women to work on-site is a key goal for construction, safety remains the priority. Falls from height are among the “fatal four” categories of job site incidents and improperly fitting equipment can fail to prevent or even contribute to serious injuries, Stephen Sandherr, the AGC’s CEO, noted.

“Our members understand that the best way to recruit more women into the industry is to make sure they have the support to do their jobs safely,” Sandherr said in a release.

“These grants will help equip hundreds of women with the kind of custom equipment and properly-fitting safety gear they need most.”

As in the U.S., where women make up about nine per cent of the total construction workforce, women are greatly outnumbered on Canadian job sites. Last year, women accounted for 13.3 per cent across the entire industry. That number has climbed continually in recent years, making specially designed safety equipment all the more important.