2021 Protective clothing

Trends in ... protective clothing

‘More comfortable without sacrificing performance’


“The horizon for protective clothing is bright,” said Scott Margolin, vice president of technical for Tyndale Co., particularly in the area of arc-rated and flame-resistant fabrics. Safety+Health talked with Margolin and Jake Hirschi, general manager at CarbonX, about what’s new in protective AR/FR clothing, what’s on the horizon and how COVID-19 made an impact on the market.

Advancing protection

“Protective clothing manufacturers are continually looking for solutions to make PPE more comfortable without sacrificing performance,” Hirschi said. 

Some of the bigger advancements in this area, Margolin added, can be seen in AR and FR fabrics.

“First, AR/FR base layers are now available at or below the weight of non-FR T-shirts,” Margolin said. “Although AR/FR base layers have always been a best practice, this makes wearing one a no-brainer – providing arc flash/flash fire protection that’s crucial in the event an exposure exceeds the outer AR/FR protection.”

“The second innovation is new lightweight CAT 2 button-up work shirt fabrics that are now in the same weight range as their non-FR counterparts.”

‘Further evolution’

AR/FR styles are becoming more similar to street clothing in terms of weight, appearance, comfort and brands, 
Margolin noted, adding that he expects “further evolution” in this area.

“Except for the long sleeves and AR/FR labels, you soon will not be able to tell any difference between AR/FR and non-protective clothing.”

COVID-19’s overall effect

One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hirschi noted, is the public’s growing awareness of the importance of wearing PPE.

“Although most of the conversation has centered on facemasks and protecting health care workers, this enhanced awareness will generate urgency for appropriate PPE to be implemented more rigorously across all industries,” he said. “Greater levels of awareness lead to greater levels of compliance and, ultimately, better protection and innovation.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Lighting/flashlights
  • Disinfectants/cleaners

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