April 21, 2022

NIOSH to Crowdsource Solutions to Improve Fit of Protective Clothing

A crowdsourcing competition launched today by NIOSH seeks to find new ways to increase the percentage of U.S. workers with access to better-fitting personal protective clothing. The challenge, which is being hosted by the online platform HeroX, seeks solutions to improve fit in three specific types of protective clothing: medical gowns, firefighter turnout gear, and coveralls used in a variety of sectors. NIOSH has identified a number of gaps it encourages competitors to consider, including use or acceptability challenges due to shape and size considerations like pregnancy, health status, or ethnicity, and challenges arising from specific work, cultural, or religious activities or gender norming assumptions. Availability issues caused by supply chain market practices and a lack of materials related to sizing practices or standards are among additional challenges identified by the agency.

Competitors should consider multiple factors that influence protective clothing fit, including body size and shape, gender, race, ethnicity, religious or cultural practices, and specific work tasks. Proposed solutions could address technology and design issues to make protective clothing more usable or acceptable to workers; assist in the development, evaluation, distribution, and assessment of training and communications related to the selection and use of properly fitting protective clothing; or improve access to protective clothing at the point of use, including remote locations or workplaces with space restrictions.

NIOSH will award up to five prizes totaling $55,000 to individuals or teams who submit the best solutions. The deadline for submitting proposed solutions is June 30. Further details about the challenge are available on the HeroX website.