The standard for safety clothing has always been tailored for men, because it is undeniable that this gender is still the dominant one in the industry. Having known that, one power engineer has thought of designing safety clothing especially for women.
Tenai Norman from St. John’s has revolutionized safety clothing by developing her own line that is exclusive for women. She put up Gear Up Safety Solutions, which offers all types of protective clothing from coveralls, vests, jackets and more for all women who work in the skilled trades.
Despite that the market is small – women only represents 8 to 13% of the tradespeople – Norman is positive about the growth of that number.
There are nine items in all sold by her company, which includes pants, shirts, and hoodies, ranging from sizes XXs to XXXXL that fit for regular, short (under 5 foot 2), and tall (over 5 foot 9) women. They are all sold through an online store, with local distributors picking up the designs as well.
It is important that women are comfortable with their work clothes so they could do their duties well aside from keeping them safe. And with the safety gears available today which are designed for men, situations can be really difficult for them because of their slightly different physique.
Norman knows this fact very well after working one time at Country Ribbon. “It’s too big, and it’s really a safety issue,” she said.
“The coveralls were so big on the wrist area, the crotch area, the legs, I couldn’t walk. It was a man’s outfit.”
“And that’s with everything — with gloves, with winter jackets, anything to do with safety is more one-size-fits-all when it’s not really true,” she added.
Although the clothing line is for women, there are no pink items. Instead it still follows the traditional blaze orange and yellow. Norman though that the goal is not to look “sissy” but less “clunky.”
Norman’s sister helped in the process of creating the safety clothing. “The rear-opening design is something that my sister actually came up with. She’s an electrician and she found it really hard when she goes to the bathroom,” Norman said.
“You flip up your waistline and you zip down, two fire retardant zippers, you zip down to your thighs, the whole thing flops open.”