Holistic Approach Needed To Close Mining Gender Gap

Holistic Approach Needed To Close Mining Gender Gap

The number of women working in the mining sector has increased significantly over the past 17 years, with the numbers growing from 11 400 in 2002 to over 53 100 today. This represents about 12% of the entire mining workforce of 464 667. However, an area that has lagged significantly in the facilitation of women’s entry into mining has been the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), designed specifically for women miners. This can largely be attributed to a general lack of awareness within the industry, with many still considering PPE for women as being more about adding a “feminine touch” rather than addressing the practicalities of workwear that is tailored to the female anatomy. A commonly observed trend is that many companies still procure male and/or unisex safety wear due to a lack of understanding that the anatomy of a women differs greatly to that of a man and, as a result, the PPE procured should reflect that. Comfort can have a profound effect on productivity, which means that ill-fitting PPE could seriously impact a wearer’s quality of work. A critical consideration is thus that ill-fitting safety footwear and workwear leads to several issues, which include discomfort and pain, lowered productivity, absenteeism due to health-related problems such as urinary infections and even a psychological barrier to the work environment. Industrial psychologist Uma Naidoo says if one is not comfortable in their attire, in which they spend about eight hours of the day, it could lead to frustration, poor concentration, increased breaks and many other debilitating effects on productivity. She says workers who are uncomfortable in their clothing, are not functioning at their best....