Product Focus: Protective clothing

Trends in ... protective clothing

Taking care

For workers who wear protective clothing, getting dressed for the workday is serious business. Take a construction worker performing night work, for example. High-visibility clothing can help him be seen by motorists. Or, think of an electrical worker. Wearing proper flame-resistant clothing can help protect against arc flashes and burns. There are countless other examples but the point is clear: Protective clothing is crucial to helping workers stay safe.

What’s new

The word “comfort” comes up a lot when talking about protective clothing – and for good reason. Industry insiders often note that without comfort, workers are less inclined to wear protective clothing. Bob Gates, product manager – clothing, at Latham, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., states that new technologies are now available that help provide greater comfort to workers. “These new technologies include improved fabric treatments that offer better moisture transfer and breathability while providing protection from the elements,” Gates said. “And, since these new technologies are used in lighter-weight and more durable garments, they help to ensure that workers who require the use of protective clothing will actually wear it when the need exists.”

Education is key

Taking care of protective clothing is important, as is understanding how to do so. Gates said that a common issue regarding protective clothing is a lack of understanding of the hazards a specific piece of clothing is intended for. He recommends education. “Training is the key to resolving these issues so that workers understand that they must properly care for garments according to manufacturers’ instructions,” Gates said. “They must also understand that just because an incident has never happened before does not mean that it will never happen.”

Gates also noted that OSHA now requires training on proper laundering techniques if an employer relies on workers to clean their own protective clothing at home. Workers also must know how to inspect their home-laundered protective clothing to ensure it does not need repair or replacement, he added.

Coming next month ...
Eye protection

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association