With increasingly stringent safety standards being executed by government bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of the UK, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. personal protective equipment has gained immense importance in businesses that need their workers to function in hazardous conditions.
Increasing emphasis on functionality and protection along with detailed training procedures, are driving developments in newer variants of personal protective equipment. Owing to the grave consequences of equipment failure, research and development on relative safeguard mechanisms has gained great importance among manufacturers across the globe.
Demand for Lightweight Equipment and Aesthetics Drives the Use of New Materials
Manufacturing industries are increasingly displaying preference towards lightweight materials that provide a similar level of safety, while providing additional mobility and ease of operations, even in constricted areas. This has been a key driver towards numerous innovations in design and fabric of various items.
For example, US based National Safety Apparel has developed its range of TEGGEN light-weight, fire resistant fabric that claims to eliminate the risk of melting or dripping as per OSHA standards, while enabling the manufacturers to design clothes such as shirts, bottoms, or overalls that are thin, and visually appealing to resemble semi-casual work clothes.
Similarly, HexArmor Inc. has also released its version of light weight seamless gloves that improve on the thinness of material for improved dexterity and comfort, without compromising on resistance to cuts and abrasions, while incorporating highly flexible exoskeleton structures that protect from the adverse of high intensity impacts.
Stanco Safety Products has also released its range of apparel for use in the molten metal sector, which makes use of fabrics that weight between 10 and 12 pounds, instead of the traditional 16 pounds, which allow the users to stay cooler in the hot environments of such facilities, increasing comfort without compromising on the level of protection offered.
Personal Protective Equipment Manufacturers Focus on Training and Awareness Programs
Numerous businesses fail to have a proper hazard assessment of their premises, in addition to a lack of worker training. This is especially true of projects in the construction industry, which significantly increases the risk of injury or death for workers in the vicinity. As a result, PPE manufacturers also provide ancillary services such as training programs for workers along with comprehensive hazard assessments to help end users select the right PPE for the relevant tasks and workplace.
For example, US based JJ Keller and Associates provides customized safety and regulatory compliance assessments to clients, through dedicated specialists in the field as per the specific requirements of the end users. This ensures the complete compliance as per OSHA, DOT, EPA, and more.
Similarly, 3M provides a number of tools and software that businesses can implement to help their personnel to use their personal protective equipment in the optimal way to meet the requisite safety needs. These services include e-learning modules, demonstration vehicles, confined space training, roadshows for safety awareness, training in virtual reality, and safety webinars among others.
Failure in Standards Compliance Increases Importance of Third Party Testing
Workers in hazardous workplaces often come across products such as safety glasses that do not meet the prescribed safety standards, despite being labelled in the appropriate manner. Such sub-standard products can affect the credibility of the manufacturers and restrain their growth significantly. It is therefore important that all products need to be tested by accredited, third party laboratories.
For instance, Intertek Group Plc provides PPE manufacturers with extensive testing for their products, before being released to the market to meet appropriate fall protection, chemical and biological protection standards, as claimed by the manufacturers. This not just helps ensure the manufacturer’s credibility, but also helps avoid potentially expensive lawsuits, which emphasizes the importance of such procedures.
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