Product Focus: Head/face protection

Trends in ... head and face protection

Expert advice

As with most personal protective equipment, comfort is paramount for workers who use head and face protection. Manufacturers know this and have responded.

According to Wells Bullard, director of marketing and product development for Cynthiana, KY-based Bullard, helping outdoor workers stay cool is a priority. “Products like vinyl brow pads and evaporative cooling accessories help manage perspiration, which can make a full day of work just a little easier,” she said.

Katie Mielcarek, marketing manager for Gateway Safety Inc., based in Cleveland, noted that vented helmets are another way to help workers stay cool when working in the heat.

Mielcarek also spoke about improvements in the ratchet systems of safety helmets. “Rotating ratchet adjustment systems are a superior feature in safety helmets when it comes to comfort and fit,” she said. “A user can adjust sizing and position the ratchet at any point on the back of the head, keeping the helmet firmly in place, even while bending over.”

Another innovation in the head and face protection category focuses on helping protect the environment. In a joint email to Safety+Health, Ashley Gaworski, assistant product line manager for accessories and hearing communications; Mackenzie Peters, product line manager, industrial head protection; and Sue Pingree, outbound product line manager, head, eye, face, hearing and communications, for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA said some hard hats are being made with sustainable high-density polyethylene. “GHDPE is a biopolymer made from sugarcane-based ethanol,” they said. “It is a renewable resource because the rate of sugarcane growth is faster than the rate of harvest.”

Preventing misuse

Simply meeting applicable head protection standards is not enough, said Gary Klee, product manager for above-the-neck products at Latham, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc. “Individuals who specify PPE products must become more knowledgeable about new head and face protection products that are available to them,” he said.

Regarding hard hats, Bullard pointed out that problems can arise when workers wear their hard hat backward. She recommends workers always check the inside of the hat for the reverse donning symbol.

Bullard also stressed the importance of replacing damaged head protection products. “If a cap has been struck by a forcible blow of any magnitude, both the hard hat shell and suspension should be replaced immediately, even if no damage is visible,” she advised.

Words of wisdom

It is important to know the components of head and face PPE, said Dave Iannelli, senior product manager for Uvex Safety Eyewear, Honeywell Safety Products, based in Smithfield, RI. “When workers are unaware of the protective equipment they could be wearing, or are not properly trained or educated on how to select the most appropriate gear, misuse and non-compliance can become a severe problem,” Iannelli said.

Coming next month … Fall protection

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association