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Creating a sense of belonging with re-designed PPE

Babcock has paved the way in supporting their female apprentices and staff through the provision of high quality, female specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

What we did.

Feedback from female employees was that the PPE was ill fitting and uncomfortable which could result in adverse effects on morale and productivity. New employees had storage challenges for their PPE and the ill-fitting clothes didn’t foster a strong sense of belonging. As a result of this feedback, Babcock initiated a programme to completely refresh the full suite of PPE. All items have been evaluated, and, where required, re-designed for the female form. This led to a change in the manufacturing process and then trialled on site at Devonport Royal Dockyard. It is now being rolled out to other Babcock sites across the country.

This means that Babcock now offers female employees a range of safety shoes in a variety of sizes, overalls and hard hats that fit better, gloves including hot work gloves fitted to women’s sizing, polo shirts and fleeces in a range of sizes, alongside a full tailoring service with a two week service level agreement (SLA). New apprentices are given a very smart, functional kit bag with good fitting PPE on day one which really helps with a feeling of belonging.

Feedback has been very positive, with one employee noting “for the first time ever I went to stores and found overalls that fit me”. New apprentices don’t even realise today that it wasn’t always this way.

What we learned.

The benefits haven’t stopped there though, through updating the female PPE, the male PPE has also been refreshed. As a bonus, fewer suppliers are now used which leads to cost benefits for the organisation.

In addition, Babcock has introduced a new initiative, whereby a PPE loan store has been established for those who only need access to PPE occasionally, either for training purposes or site and school visits. This has reduced the overall equipment overhead and all staff have access to the latest PPE when required and it does not need to be stored on site for every employee.

What we would do differently as a result.

Babcock is committed to continuous improvement. Feedback to date has been very positive and the programme has been a success on many fronts. The next project of focus in this area is lightweight safety shoes for women when they become available on the market.

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