Trends in ... protective clothing

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From insulated baselayers and flame-resistant fabrics, pants, coats and jackets to high-visibility garments, the protective clothing field is extensive. Here, Jason Rodriguez, marketing communications associate for Newark, DE-based W. L. Gore & Associates Inc., a global materials science company, discusses the state of the protective clothing industry with Safety+Health.

Safety+Health: What are some of the new technologies being used for protective clothing?

Jason Rodriguez: We are seeing advances in garments that are engineered to protect the worker from multiple hazards and elements. Clothing that can integrate [fire-resistant] technology and petroleum/oil resistance while being windproof, waterproof and breathable allows for a complete outerwear system in a single layer.

S+H: How do people misuse the products?

Rodriguez: It’s important for operators and safety personnel to have a full understanding of the protection they require in a particular environment to ensure both safety and comfort needs are met. The key is to continuously educate industry stakeholders on the various levels of protection that are available so they’re exposed to technologies that are outside of legacy products and what they’re normally accustomed to.

Another factor to keep in mind is how garments are layered. Inappropriate layering can compromise the protection factor of one or more layers. Make sure your various garments are meant to work together.

S+H: What is of the utmost importance regarding protective clothing?

Rodriguez: Make sure any garment meets your application’s specifications, namely requirements for flame protection, chemical exposure, steam/hot liquid contact and visibility. Building on that, look for a garment that keeps the worker comfortable when working normally in extreme environments. Clothing that is comfortable allows a worker to perform safely and more effectively by reducing potential risk of incident because of fatigue, distraction, etc.

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