Trends in ... head/face protection

Matching the PPE to the hazard

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Whether it’s a faceshield to protect a worker from a chemical splash or a welding helmet to block ultraviolet and infrared rays emitted from a welding arc, the importance of head and face protection cannot be overstated. Here, industry insiders discuss what’s new in head and face protection and the importance of using the correct personal protective equipment.

What’s new

Being able to see clearly is paramount when it comes to head and face protection. “Perhaps the most important technology that has been dominating head/face protection is the new durable anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings that have been introduced to combat fogging events, which occur in many work-related situations,” said Michael Bolden, product manager, eyewear and head protection, for Memphis-based Radians.

Noting that fogging can occur at the worst times, Bolden said it can “not only pose a threat to vision, but to life and limb as well.”

Brian Cruikshank, technical director for Crolles, France-based Petzl, said some other new technologies include “compatible lighting solutions to work hands-free, integral faceshields meeting ANSI Z87.1-2010 certification and compatible ear protection.”

Getting it right

Using the wrong PPE for a particular job is a common type of misuse.

Bolden spoke of the importance of using the correct type of anti-fog coating. “Many times, standard hydrophobic coatings will work fine if the situation only has a moderate risk for fogging,” he said. “However, when in high humidity with little air flow or in a confined space where ambient temperatures are high and the relative humidity is elevated, you should probably choose a durable anti-fog solution [that] is hydrophilic.”

Bolden explained that hydrophilic coatings absorb and dispel moisture in a way that prevents microscopic coatings from forming. Additionally, “hydrophilic and super hydrophilic coatings also 
resist erosion from cleaning, some chemical exposure and light abrasion,” he said.

Cruikshank pointed to the need to perform risk assessments to determine the necessary PPE. “Use the correct, approved helmet for the work task based on industry best practices, PPE requirements and a proactive risk assessment to determine the appropriate type and class rating of helmet.”

Bolden spoke similarly. “Whether it is flying objects, chemicals that are present, ambient conditions or other specific elements, the PPE match to the specific situation is critical,” he said.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association.

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