Health, safety, environment 01 May 2020

Protecting pregnant workers

Woodside is now able to provide fire-retardant off-the-shelf personal protective equipment (PPE) to its pregnant employees.

It’s a first in the oil and gas industry, but it’s only the first step in a refresh of PPE that considers the need to address inclusion and diversity of our workforce and visitors.

Health and safety manager Adam Nicholas says while maternity PPE was already available in the marketplace, it was deemed unsuitable for the operational needs of the oil and gas industry.

“Previously, pregnant women have had to make do with ill-fitting overalls as they transition through the various trimesters of pregnancy,” Adam notes.

Internally, Health and Safety, Contracting and Procurement (C&P) and Corporate Affairs worked together towards a solution that would create an inclusive environment for women while meeting operational and safety needs.

An external PPE supplier and manufacturer were engaged to design and produce PPE that met these requirements.

The broader range of PPE became available in Q1 2020 and includes more variety in safety footwear for women than previously available.

Maintenance coordinator Kerry Hill, due to give birth to her first child in June, was told about the maternity PPE by her line manager and volunteered to trial the new clothing and document her experience for the company.

“I was resigned to modifying my own clothing at my own cost so it was a nice surprise,” Kerry says.

“I was really happy with the initiative to offer something both comfortable and fit for purpose.

“It’s a step in the right direction and I think if we users can give constructive feedback, then we will be able to deliver improvements in its design.”

C&P senior adviser Rita Pinheiro, due in August, says: “The trousers are super comfortable, and will be useful for the entire pregnancy because they expand through the trimesters.

“Since oil and gas is traditionally male dominated, I highly doubt maternity PPE was even a thought five years ago.”

Those interested in ordering maternity PPE should email requirements to Lorraine Mitchell, management assistant Projects. “Sizes range from 6 to 24, so there is clothing to fit the various stages of pregnancy,” Adam says.

“This is an important step in our inclusion and diversity journey and I encourage conversations about maternity PPE at pre-starts and safety meetings.”

But it’s only one step on the journey to more inclusive PPE.

Woodside, in line with its Compass, is seeking ways to promote a cohesive and collaborative workplace that fully embraces inclusion and diversity.

Fire-retardant hijabs, turbans and cultural dress will be available for use at all our facilities, allowing employees and visitors to feel at ease and protected on our premises.

“This is a practical example of living Woodside’s values of improving inclusion and diversity, and it also aligns with our current business strategies,” notes Mike Price, vice president Pluto, floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) facilities, and Wheatstone.

“With a growing number of women working at Woodside, it enables the company to cater for the current and future profile of its workforce.”

Read the full Q1 2020 issue of Trunkline here.

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