When The Shoe Doesn’t Fit – Why Women Need To Demand Female-Specific Safety Footwear In The WorkplaceJune 23rd, 2021 by Nick Alers
Over the years, women have been making up a greater proportion of the workforce, and this includes sectors that have typically been male-dominated such as mining, manufacturing and construction. This increase in women workers in more physical industries shines a spotlight on the need for female-specific safety gear, especially footwear. The typical approach of providing ‘unisex’ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) does not adequately serve most women, who are often left feeling uncomfortable in ill-fitting safety gear. The reason for this is that “unisex” safety footwear for example, offered by many brands, is predominantly a male mould modified with cosmetic touches to be passed off as a female offering. When it comes to footwear, a shoe that does not fit may negatively impact the wearer’s productivity in the short-term and lead to injuries in the long-term.
The fallacy of unisex
As diversity and inclusivity continue to be important to business, more women will be employed in industries that have typically been dominated by men. However, while hiring practices may have evolved, many organisations have not changed their strategy toward safety gear. The most common approach is to obtain one generic, supposedly ‘unisex’ range in a variety of sizes.
However, specifically with reference to footwear, this is not the most appropriate solution, since there is only a small portion of the female population that will suit a unisex shoe which is basically a men’s last in a smaller size. Women’s feet are not only typically smaller than men’s, they are also a different shape, and tend to be narrower. When women are made to wear shoes that do not fit correctly, this can cause problems.
Impacting health, wellness and productivity
In addition to causing discomfort on a daily basis, studies show that ill-fitting shoes cause foot pain and foot disorders, which can negatively impact on health in the long term. According to research, “footwear cannot fulfil its intended purpose if it does not fit the foot correctly”. This means that ill-fitting safety footwear may not effectively be fulfilling their role of keeping women safe.
When women are made to wear poorly fitted shoes, their feet often oscillate from side to side. Over time, the oscillation puts strain on the ankles, which leads to strain on the knees and subsequently strain on the hips. This can in turn cause back pain other issues.
In the case of women with narrow heels, the potential of slipping out of the boot is a daily risk, counteracting the sole purpose of wearing safety footwear. Most women require safety footwear designed specifically for the shape of their feet to ensure they are both comfortable and secure.
Putting your best foot forward
Female-specific PPE, and particularly safety footwear, is not just about cosmetic changes or putting a ‘feminine touch’ on men’s equipment. Women’s safety equipment needs to allowing women to focus on their work rather than on how uncomfortable they are, it is also essential to actually ensuring safety and compliance.
When designing female safety footwear, it is also important to obtain feedback from the wearers of safety boots, whilst taking the different working environments into consideration. We at Sisi Safety Wear have conducted numerous interviews and worked with a specialist podiatrist in the industry to develop a range of safety footwear specifically designed for women and manufactured locally. Our range consists of a number of styles and sole units that take into account the functional and ergonomic requirements of the female workforce across different industries.
Women deserve both safety and comfort in the workplace, and with locally manufactured, women-specific safety wear ranges readily available, there is little excuse for organisations not catering to the needs of their female workforce.
Industries’ requirements for safety footwear and other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) have historically been male dominated, but this trend is changing rapidly. More and more women are entering the workforce, including areas of ‘hard labour’ like mining, manufacturing and construction. This means that more women require PPE, and herein lies the challenge. Procurement officers tend to simply purchase smaller sizes of men’s safety wear to cater to their female workforce, but a woman’s body is not smaller than a man’s, it has a totally different anatomy. When it comes to footwear especially, the wrong fit can be detrimental. Procurement officers need to look at procuring safety equipment and footwear designed specifically for women to ensure their dignity, comfort, health and wellbeing. The cost of purchasing male or unisex safety wear for women can be significantly higher in the long term.
Footwear impacts health and safety
Ill-fitting footwear can cause a range of health problems, including foot pain and foot disorders. According to research, “footwear cannot fulfil its intended purpose if it does not fit the foot correctly”..
What often happens is that women’s feet oscillate in badly fitted shoes, which may have long-term health implications and can cause calf injuries, muscle strain and back problems. In addition, their feet could slip out of the boots, leaving them vulnerable to accidental injury.
Outside of just the personal wellbeing, there are also economic implications from reduced productivity and increased sick leave, medical claims and workmen’s compensation; all of which negatively affect the bottom line.
Cosmetic changes are not enough
When it comes to female-specific safety footwear, mere cosmetic changes are not enough. This fails to address the underlying problems that cause discomfort and can affect the female employee’s wellbeing; this is especially concerning given the fact that there are locally produced, women-specific options available.
Aside from the safety and economic aspects of ill-fitting safety wear, women’s dignity is also negatively impacted, especially where their daily workwear is concerned. If we are to make women feel comfortable and truly included in the workforce, procurement needs to focus on obtaining safe, effective and specific safety wear for their female workforce.
Sisi Safety Wear has invested in research to understanding the specific needs of women in safety within the different sectors. We have provided a solution to meet various requirements within safety footwear, workwear or fall arrests. There is a reason men and women shop for gender specific clothing in general; so with locally produced, women specific safety wear readily available, are you making the right choices for your female workforce?
Sisi Safety Wear unveils quarterly lifestyle magazine targeted at working women in industry, which shares information on how to live a balanced and holistic life whilst juggling multiple roles on a tight budget.
Women’s personal protection equipment manufacturer Sisi Safety Wear has launched a quarterly lifestyle magazine for women, specifically targeted at working women who are juggling multiple roles – mother, wife, daughter, community member and employee – with limited time available in their day; living on very tight and demanding budgets.
The publication, entitled Imbokodo – an isiZulu term referring to the resilience and strength of women – was born out of insights gained from conversations with working women in the industry.
“The title of our publication really sums up the calibre of the women that we are targeting,” says Vanessa Ronald, Senior Brand Manager of Sisi Safety Wear. “In talking to numerous women working in a wide range of industries in South Africa, we have seen that their strength goes beyond just a working woman in a male-dominated industry. It lies in the essence of who these women are and their total contribution to their families, communities and the country as a whole.”
Ronald stated that interviewed women hailing from industries such as Mining, Manufacturing, Engineering and Construction, reported that their days start as early as 4am each morning. “These women are not rising early to fit in a run or head to the gym, but rather to get a head start on the demands of a stressful and tiring day.”
The women stated that their early rising was to allow them time to get themselves ready for the day before seeing to the needs of their children and extended families. Most of these women also rely on public transport as a means of getting to work and their punctuality at work is often determined by the length of a queue and the reliability of the driver thus requiring them to be at the taxi ranks early.
It was also interesting to hear how important these women’s salaries are to the running of their households, reported Ronald. “A woman’s salary is no longer a nice addition to the net monthly household income, but an absolute necessity. With rising costs, high unemployment and the resultant support that is given to extended family members of the employed, a woman’s role as a financial contributor has never been more crucial.”
“As a brand that is committed to the success of women in industry, we are constantly seeking for ways to add value to our target market.”
This led to the creation of a lifestyle magazine that will be distributed to partner companies throughout South Africa who employ women within their workforce. The magazine covers a wide range of topics, from nutritional, emotional and physical to financial and inspirational, with advice given from experts within the relevant fields, who would not necessarily be accessible to these women when considering the demands on their budgets.
“We understand our target market and we know that for many of these women the day starts long before they even get to work. The publication is about equipping women with information that will help them achieve some balance in what can be a very hectic life. We have encouraged women to get in contact with us through the publication and provide feedback, highlighting the types of articles that they would like featured to ensure that what we publish is directly relevant to what they need.”
Read the first edition right here.
We understand the constant struggle of getting your family to eat enough fresh fruit and veggies to keep them healthy, never mind the cost and hassle of making sure there is always a fresh supply. So we checked out ways you can grow your own fruit and vegetables.
There is nothing quite as delicious as freshly-picked fruit straight off the tree. Even if you have just a small space or patch of dirt, you can still grow a few essentials that will be much cheaper than buying at a supermarket. Grow five basic vegetables that will give you enough for you and your family using the following method:
Draw a circle in the ground about 1 metre wide. Loosen the soil, turn it over and give it a good watering. Divide the circle into five, like cutting a pizza. Dig a 35cm deep hole in the centre of the circle.
Take an empty 2L plastic coke bottle and poke 15 small holes in it all the way around. Place the bottle in the hole you have dug, with the open top sticking out. This is how you will water your vegetable circle. All you need to do is check that the bottle has water in it and it will slowly seep out, keeping the soil damp.
You can edge your circle with stones or half-bricks. You can also use stones to make the dividing lines clearer.
Did you know?
Research shows that gardening can help your children to be more creative, happier, less stressed and more physically healthy? Planting and tending a garden together as a family is a positive and exciting thing to do. Give it a try and let us know how it goes – we’d love to hear about your gardening adventures!
THE FIVE VEGETABLES LISTED BELOW ARE ALL HIGH IN THE VITAMINS AND MINERALS THAT YOU NEED TO KEEP YOU HEALTHY.
- Tomatoes – You can use seeds from any tomato. Simply press the seed into the ground about a thumb length in. You only need to plant two or three seeds. Place a stick into the ground next to the seed because the tomato plant will need to have something to lean against as it grows. The tomato will take about two months to produce.
- Beans – Before planting beans, you need to seed them. Take fresh beans and place the seeds into damp cotton wool or a kitchen towel until a root begins to sprout. Plant these into your circle, about 10 centimetres apart. These will also need sticks to grow up onto. These will also take about two months to begin producing.
- Beetroot – You don’t need seeds for beetroot; you can use the tops of them. Simply cut off the top and leave it in a shallow bowl of water with the cut side down until it starts sprouting. Then you can plant them in your circle. Beetroot takes about three months before you can harvest them.
- Spinach – You will need to get hold of some seeds, but once you’ve grown your first plants, you can leave one to produce seeds. Push the seeds into the soil about half a thumb-length in. They’re really small, so you might have to pull some out once they begin growing. You only need about four to feed your family. This will take about one and a half months to grow.
- Radish – These grow very quickly and are great to add to any dish. Plant the seeds about half a thumb-length into the soil and about one centimetre apart. These will be ready to harvest in about three weeks.
Being a single mom can be tough; it’s not easy helping your children grow up to be great humans. Craig Wilkinson, founder of ‘Father a Nation’, says it’s important for boys and girls to have a male figure in their lives, but that women have a vital role too.
He says that it doesn’t matter what you say, it’s what you do that really matters. He’s given us these tips for moms:
Value your own womanhood
When you value your own womanhood, you won’t accept any behaviour towards you that devalues you. When you respect yourself, you will find that men begin to respect you too. How much you value yourself will be how much other people value you. Remember Steve Biko’s words, “The greatest weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”. Showing your children that you are valuable, tells them that they are too.
Understand and value true masculinity
As a self-respecting, self-loving woman, acknowledge and value true masculinity for the gift that it is to the world. Validate and affirm true masculinity when you see it. Just as men need to love, honour and respect women and womanhood, men need your love and respect. Not when they don’t deserve it of course; that’s when they need your honesty and to know that you will not tolerate their behaviour. If you let your children know what is good behaviour by not accepting bad behaviour, they will learn how to stand up for what is right.
Don’t accept false masculinity
Be assertive in communicating what’s okay and not okay. Men will treat you the way you allow them to. Never accept any behaviour from a man that makes you feel demeaned or ‘less than’ in any way. As soon as it happens, make it known that it’s not acceptable. Call out false masculinity and find men and women to stand with you in resisting it. The minute you see a man treating you or another woman in a way that is not acceptable, tell him. Make sure your children know this too.
Be a great role model, mentor and mother
Model womanhood. Be the woman you want your daughter and the next generation of women to be. Be the woman you want your son to marry. Teach your daughter how to be a great woman – strong, gracious, tender and powerful. Affirm your son’s masculinity, give him permission to be a man. Mentor young women who don’t have a mother or significant older woman in their lives. You have the power to impart the power and beauty of womanhood to younger women. Use this power.
Be free of bitterness and anger.
Get rid of any bitterness and lack of forgiveness. No matter what bad experiences you have had with a man or men in the past, take back your power. Don’t let anger control you. And don’t generalise that experience to all men. Bitterness is a poison you don’t deserve. Set yourself free and model to your son and daughter that men are not all bad, that true masculinity is a great thing. You don’t want your daughter growing up hating men and your son hating himself.
We, women are the core of society, the backbone of community. We can make a big difference in the world simply by teaching our children how to love and respect each other. But it starts with you – learning to love yourself is something we’ll talk about in upcoming editions.
Making time for exercise is nearly impossible when you’re working and looking after a family. And how many of us have the time or money to go to gym? There’s also the matter of simply not having the energy. But when we spoke to Saskia V, radio personality and personal trainer, she said that exercise actually gives you more energy.
We also told her that most of us just don’t have the time, so she’s given us some tips on how to exercise at work each day. Most of us spend the majority of our day sitting at our desks, which means we don’t get enough physical movement throughout the day. This can result in many health problems. She started by telling us why it’s important to exercise, because we all need motivation, right?
Regular exercise helps:
- Reduce your risk of a heart attack
- Manage weight better
- Lower blood cholesterol level
- Lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- Lower blood pressure
- Strengthen bones, muscles and joints and lower the risk of developing osteoporosis
- Lower risk of falls through stabilising balance, etc
- To recover better from periods of prolonged sitting, hospitalisation or bed rest
- Make us feel better (more energy, a better mood, more relaxed and better sleep)
We asked Saskia to share with us some of the simple exercises we can do at work.
So, let’s look at a typical day and how we can get our heart rates up and get active at work:
- If there are stairs at work, take them. Ignore the lift and go as quickly as possible up the stairs. If you’ve got time, go up and down a few times to get your heart racing.
- Neck stretches – Sit up tall in your chair and drop your left ear down towards your left shoulder and hold for a few seconds. Then repeat for the right side.
- Walk and talk – If you need to speak to a colleague about something, ask them to walk and talk with you – you’ll be doing them a favour by giving them a workout too.
- Wall sit – Stand with your back against the wall and slowly lower yourself into a seated position, holding for 10–30 seconds at a time.
- Calf raises – Using your desk, chair or a wall for support, stand on your tip toes and hold this position for 15 seconds. Lower back down and repeat for two minutes
In our next edition, Saskia is going to tell us how to get strength training into our daily routines. We’re keen to start a movement of movement. So the next time you see a woman rushing to the bathroom or marching in place in a line, give her a round of applause because you’ll know she’s also doing her best to keep her health and weight in-check.
Discover the dangers of wearing the wrong cut or even leggings and how your health and productivity is affected.
How many pairs of leggings do you own? More importantly, how many times have you slipped on a pair to smooth out the lumps and bumps you don’t want anyone to know about.
We’ve all done it. Leggings are so comfortable and because they are close-fitting, you can wear them under just about anything.
When it comes to wearing overalls that’s designed for a man, well, that’s when leggings really help. Those pants are just not meant to accommodate all our curves, so when you bend over – eek! Too much is revealed about you.
We know it can get a bit heated with leggings under those male-designed pants, but guess what? It’s not just the heat that’s a problem. Professor Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist we spoke to, says that wearing leggings all day under your work clothes can cause skin problems and infections. That’s because the material leggings are made from does not absorb moisture. So, if you sweat while wearing them, your skin stays damp all the time. Fungus and bacteria love damp spaces.
- Ring worm is a fungal infection (it’s not really a worm) that is itchy and scaly. It can appear anywhere on your legs or your groin. To get rid of it, you need to use an anti-fungal cream.
- There are two issues that can be made worse by wearing leggings – a vaginal yeast infection and a vaginal bacterial infection.
- A yeast infection happens when the balance of natural bacteria and yeast in your vagina get out of balance. The yeast cells multiply and cause irritation, itching and swelling. You will see a thick, creamy discharge.
- Bacterial vaginosis is also an imbalance of bacteria in your vagina and you usually need antibiotics to get rid of it. The discharge from your vagina will have a fishy smell. Don’t use soap when washing if you have a bacterial infection, because it can make the issue worse. Just use warm water. Wearing leggings won’t cause these two issues, but they can make them worse.
- There’s also the problem of your skin drying out and chafing (when your skin rubs against something all the time) – this can cause bacteria to grow in your hair follicles, which get infected and create sore bumps on your legs. Chafing can also make your skin crack where it is being rubbed, which can be very painful.
- If your leggings are very tight, they can reduce your circulation, which can cause varicose veins.
- If they are too tight around your stomach area, it can cause digestive problems and stomach pain.
If it’s that time of the month and the thought of getting out of bed, nevermind doing a full day’s work, makes you want to scream, we get you. Snuggling up in bed with a hot water bottle and downing pain pills is one way to do it. But doctors say that you can get some pain relief from Vitamin D. That doesn’t mean you can just take it whenever period pains strike. It’s all about getting your dose daily. It’s also important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles – which we women need to look after. So where do you get it from?
Sunlight – the best way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D is to expose your skin to sunlight for at least 15 minutes a day. You don’t have to stand in harsh sun, just ensure you get some sunshine on your skin each day.
Food – red meat, eggs and fish (tuna and sardines) are all good sources of Vitamin D.
Shifting Health: The Benefits of Sleep
Women are used to doing many things at once and living with little sleep. But, getting your beauty sleep is actually really important. If you’re working shifts, it’s not always so easy, especially when your neighbour’s teenager plays his music full blast all day or the guy down the road insists on renovating his bathroom. Scientists say that noise and light can seriously impact your sleep. So, if you are coming off a night shift, try to stick to a routine. Spend some time relaxing before jumping in to bed, to give your mind and body time to chill. Eat something light – such as a banana with oats and a teaspoon of honey. All those ingredients help your body relax and release the chemicals needed for good sleep. Do some deep breathing – take just five minutes and sit with a straight back and concentrate on taking deep breathes in and out. Try to block out all the light in your room, as well as sounds so you can have a good, quality rest.
Looking for a quick lunchtime snack that will give you enough energy to get you through the afternoon? A tin of pilchards in tomato sauce is filled with vitamins and minerals that are really good for you. This is what is in a tin: vitamin B12, omega 3, vitamin D, selenium, lycopene, iodine, phosphorus, niacin, biotin, riboflavin(B2) and calcium. You can opt for taking just a tin of pilchards to work (don’t forget the tin opener), or you can use this simple recipe and make fish cakes for you and your family – they’re great eaten warm or cold.
- 1 large tin pilchards in tomato sauce
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium eggs
- Chop the sweet potatoes and boil them.
- Chop the onion into small pieces.
- Beat the eggs and add in the onion and pilchards. Mix well.
- Once the sweet potatoes are boiled and soft, add them to the pilchard mix and add salt to taste.
- Using your hands, mix well and then create balls out of the pilchard and potato mix.
- Squash the balls a little bit so they look like patties. Dust them with flour.
- Heat up a pan and put ½ a centimetre of oil in it. Once hot, fry the patties for about five minutes on each side.
BREAKFAST MUFFIN RECIPE
These are great because you can make them the night before and eat them as snacks during the day as well. If you don’t have a muffin pan, you can get silicone muffin moulds at most grocery stores for about R180, or a muffin pan for about R60.
- Makes 6
- 4 Eggs
- 2 Spinach leaves
- 1/2 Cup milk
- Salt to taste
1. Heat oven to 180°C
2. Beat the eggs, milk and salt until frothy.
3. Chop up the spinach leaves and add to the egg mix.
4. Pour the mixture into muffin pan or moulds, about halfway full.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture is solid, but not dry.
6. Remove from moulds or pan.
Tip: If you want them extra fluffy, you can add 1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder to the mix.
FISH AND RICE DISH
- Serves 8
- 1 Medium tin pilchards in tomato sauce
- 4 Medium handfuls rice
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 3 Medium carrots, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Canola oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
1. Boil the rice until almost soft.
2. Fry the onion and carrots in a little bit of oil until the onions are see-through and the carrots slightly soft.
3. Once the rice is cooked, add it to the onion and carrots and mix well on low heat.
4. Add in the pilchards and mix on the stove top until warmed all the way through.
Tip: You can add leftovers to your fish and rice dish for the next day’s lunch.
So, it is possible to eat healthy stuff on a budget too! We hope you are as excited about the meal plan and shopping list as we are. We’ll be finding new ways of serving up the ingredients and bringing you our top pick recipes.
We’d love your feedback on your experiences. Please send us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your recipe ideas or any ingredients we might have missed out.