Apprentice Leena Begum is challenging the availability of inclusive PPE for construction workers
Leena Begum, from East London, led an initiative to enhance the range of PPE available at HS2 sites. Begum wears a headscarf, but the range of PPE available to site-based employees did not support her faith requirements. She began researching PPE hijabs and designed a prototype in conjunction with a leading manufacturer.
Begum discussed the idea with her management team and, weeks after, a new catalogue of PPE products was available to employees. This included an improved range of maternity PPE.
Begum was nominated for an HS2 Inspiration Award in recognition of her achievements and the judging panel agreed she was a well-deserved winner.
Paving the way for women in construction
Speaking about her award win, and her drive to ensure all women can ‘be themselves’ at work, Begum said: “It is really great to have my work recognised by HS2. HS2 is paving the way for females in the industry and seeing the new PPE range adopted across our megaproject is another step in the right direction.
“Civil engineering is about problem-solving and we can’t do that if the workforce isn’t diverse – that’s why initiatives like this are so important.”
SCS JV’s managing director, James Richardson, said: “Leena’s approach to challenging the availability of appropriate PPE for everyone is an example of how talented and empowered apprentices can bring innovation and new ways of thinking to HS2. She saw something that needed fixing, she set about finding a workable solution and she has now secured positive change for herself and for women across our industry.”
Begum is part of the team delivering HS2’s Greenpark Way headhouse and vent shaft in west London.
Last summer, the Chartered Institute of Building launched a major new initiative to address widespread inequalities in PPE provision across the construction industry. The #PPEthatfits campaign is calling for everyone working in construction to have PPE that fits them properly, regardless of their gender, culture, religion, size or shape, is safe, and compliant with health and safety regulations.