Perfect fit for male-dominated jobs

14 August 2019 - 16:35
By Somaya Stockenstroom
Sisi work suits allow women to protect their dignity, privacy.
Sisi work suits allow women to protect their dignity, privacy.

As much as women are taking on male-dominated industries that require strength and long hours of labour - they need to be comfortable doing so.

Local company BBF Safety Group incorporated Sisi Safety Wear, a brand of women-specific personal protective equipment, who say that safety workwear is much more than just clothing - but also about protecting women's dignity and privacy.

Being the largest manufacturer of safety wear and personal protective equipment in Africa, the local company wanted to do more for women who find themselves especially in the fields of mining and construction.

Established in 2008, Sisi Safety Wear was initially developed to provide a solution for women's safety footwear.

Vanessa Ronald, senior brand manager at Sisi, says they saw the urgency to develop clothing that is both comfortable, functional and shields women from falling prey to sexual offenders.

She says their gear now provides more than just protection from falling rocks - but also from sexual predators underground, and having to use the toilet comfortably without wearing nylon leggings under garments, which leads to all sorts of problems for women in these industries.

The rationale behind extending the brand from footwear was also to challenge the status quo that one size fits all. While there is a distinct difference in the anatomy of men and women - women also differ from each other in shape and size.

"With an understanding of the anatomical difference between men and women and an appreciation of the effect that ill-fitting workwear can have on productivity, the range is tailored to the contours of a woman's body.

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"Larger hips and breasts are catered for as is wear for smaller-built women.

"To safeguard their dignity, our tops and trousers are longer, and trousers have a higher waist to prevent the exposure of the back and midriff areas when bending over or raising arms."

She explains that their range cuts the back panels of tops according to women's yoke and back areas and extends the front with darting at the bust.

A side slit caters to movement and flexibility around the hip area. They also do maternity cuts for expecting mothers.

A classic example of comfort and safety is their ground-breaking boiler suit for women with a V-flap design in the back. This suit makes toilet use easier as the top part of the suit does not need to be undone or removed and kit including safety torches and batteries do not need to be removed.

"Women can relieve themselves more regularly rather than holding in their urine for the greater part of the shift," says Ronald.

This Women's Month, they went even further by launching a fall-arrest systems for women working at heights - harnesses with permanently attached lanyards.

Sisi fall-arrest specialist, Ruaan Breedt, explains that the harnesses are adjustable and have an elasticated chest strap. Ronald states further that women with larger bust areas have shared their dissatisfaction of wearing chest (straps) accentuating their breasts among a largely male workforce.

"By allowing them to move the chest strap they are able to position it in the area that is most comfortable to them, thereby increasing their confidence and focus on site."