The number of women in mining has been increasing exponentially over the past decade as the resources sector looks to address specific skills shortages. Maternity workwear is a growing trend and one innovative clothing company is breaking new ground for women.
One enterprising former female mine worker has taken the gender revolution one step further by developing a range of hi-vis maternity workwear to improve the comfort and most importantly, safety, of her expecting sisters.
AMSJ talked to Kym Clark about her female-friendly line of workwear.
Q1: Maternity workwear is not the first thing that leaps to mind when someone mentions mine safety – what was the inspiration behind your rather unique line of hi-viz maternity wear?
I was working full time in a coal mine environment in Central Queensland and noticed my pregnant manager was forced to wear a high-vis shirt unbuttoned over a singlet in a meeting. I still find it hard to believe that it is 2014 and up until November last year when my first stock arrived, we were talking about pregnant women not having suitable clothing in the mining, construction and transport industries.
Women deserve to celebrate a pregnancy in clothing that is appropriate and well fitting. The She’s Empowered maternity workwear line provides a workwear option which helps women feel good, look good and be comfortable while wearing hi-vis.
Q2: What’s the difference between your hi-viz products and simply wearing an extra-large hi-viz shirt?
Oversized shirts are a real safety concern. The loose material around the waist and sleeves are dangerous on site. The She’s Empowered range of workwear is designed specifically for women. In our research, we identified that women have eight different body shapes.
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The Baby Bump, Styleworker and Yoketastic shirts are each designed to help women feel confident and comfortable in their job. The Yoketastic is a tailored design and features a yoke neckline and twin vertical seam back detail which creates a slimming effect while the Styleworker is a gentle cut which features shoulder detail, a structured collar and longer cuffs.
The gentle fit allows more comfort and freedom of movement while making you feel stylish and confident. The Baby Bump features the unique box pleats to allow for a growing belly.
Q3: Is there a correlation between comfortable, properly fitted clothing and safety on the mine site?
There absolutely is. The resources industry is one of the largest employers in Australia, and women make up almost one-fifth of the country’s mining workforce. When you give a woman an extra-large shirt to wear on site there is a lot of excess fabric around the sleeves and you are still not guaranteed that you will be able to do up your shirt throughout the length of your pregnancy. The excess and loose material is considered a real safety risk on site.
Q4: What’s the response been to your hi-viz maternity wear in the industry? Which companies or sectors have shown the most interest?
Companies are very supportive of the She’s Empowered innovative approach to women’s hi-vis maternity workwear. She’s Empowered fills a gap in the resources, transport and construction industry for pregnant
women, providing comfortable, safety-compliant high vis shirts with box pleats to allow for the growth of pregnant bellies.
Q5: How did you first get into mining and what was your line of work?
I started my career in the Resource sector as a Commercial Graduate with Anglo American. I’ve held various roles across the business including; Financial Accountant, Management Accountant and Contracts Officer. Working in the resource industry has given me a thorough understanding of the very real challenges women face in relation to appropriate Personal Protective Clothing available for women (for instance no maternity options before the first delivery of She’s Empowered stock in November 2013).
Q6: What do you think are the biggest health and safety challenges for women working on the mine site?
Ill-fitting uniforms certainly present a safety risk to women on site. She’s Empowered aims to address this across not only mining but also the construction and transport industries.
Read more Mining Safety News