British Muslim Severn Trent Worker Designs First PPE Headscarf

Photo: Birmingham Mail

Birmingham, MINA – A Birmingham engineer who feared she couldn’t feel safe or comfortable doing her job has designed the first PPE headscarf.

Aminah Shafiq, a senior water quality advisor, raised the issue with her Severn Trent bosses after noticing there was no hijab option for Muslim employees like herself for visits to operational sites, Birmingham Mail reported on Friday.

A hijab is a veil worn by Muslim women in the presence of men outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the hair, head and chest.

She would worry about the headscarf becoming caught or that she would be unsafe due to the helmet not fitting properly over the hijab.

Speaking about her design and the end product, Aminah said: “As part of my role, I’m often asked to go to many of our operational sites and, as a Muslim woman, I always found this to be tricky when it came to covering my head and the challenges it could bring.

Aminah said sometimes there can be excess material from my headscarf that I would worry could get caught, or could mean my helmet doesn’t always fit properly.

“I didn’t want my choice of covering my head to mean I couldn’t feel safe or comfortable, so with the full support of Severn Trent, I wanted to change that and designed our first PPE specific headscarf,” she added.

Aminah said she took inspiration from headscarves designed for athletes as they have “less material and a snug fit” perfect for wearing under helmets.

When the prototype was created, it was tested with others across the business who would benefit from wearing one and was met with “huge positivity”.

The “light, cool material” means it is comfortable throughout the day, and the fit means it doesn’t need to be adjusted as often while still appropriately covering hair.

“I really hope this headscarf will help pave the way for more Muslim women embarking on an engineering career,” said Aminah.

“I’m really proud that now any other Muslim women like myself, who may have felt anxious about taking on a career in the engineering industry where PPE is required, will now have something comfortable, safe and inclusive to wear when working in any operational role,” she added.

Severn Trent said has identified this as a particular issue that could be a potential obstacle to Muslim women who choose to wear a headscarf for religious reasons.

With the backing and support of the company, Aminah went ahead and designed a prototype to ensure both comfort and function.

It has added the headscarf to its PPE catalogue, making the product available to its 7,000 plus workforce to have as part of their usual PPE kit.

The water utility firm said it “wants to encourage more women from diverse backgrounds to join the company” and the engineering industry in general.

A Severn Trent Water spokeswoman said: “We now have our first PPE headscarf available for colleagues after Aminah Shafiq, one of our employees, designed a prototype that’s suitable for Muslim women who cover their hair that’s both practical and safe to wear under helmets.

“So, anyone who has to do site visits or has an operational role now has the option to use a specific PPE headscarf on site. “This is really exciting,” she said.

“It’s inclusive, and specific for women who chose to cover their heads”.

“We hope this will help encourage more Muslim women to join the engineering industry and make colleagues feel more comfortable and safe on site, while still appropriately covering their hair.” (T/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)