Workplace Solutions Personal protective equipment

PPE and supply chain disruptions

What have supply chain disruptions meant for employers who need personal protective equipment for their workers?


Responding is Jack Hartley, copywriter, RPB Safety, Royal Oak, MI.

For some operations, removing hazards through engineering and administrative controls, along with substitution/elimination, is simply not enough. In these workplaces, alternative safety measures need to be implemented, and personal protective equipment is one of the best ways to achieve this.

However, when workplaces rely so heavily on PPE for their employees’ safety, supply chain disruptions can be felt deeply and cause a host of negative effects that jeopardize safety, compliance and production out-put. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chains have been disrupted in almost every region of the globe. Sea and air freight have slowed down dramatically, production lead times have increased with lockdowns and reduced operation capacity, materials are becoming harder to source, and, to top it off, PPE demand has skyrocketed.

So, what does this mean for employers who require PPE?

It’s quite simple: They seek alternative brands that are able to deliver. Safety cannot wait, and brand loyalty can only go so far. With some manufacturers unable to fulfill orders for up to six months at a time, customers grow tired and start searching elsewhere, looking for a manufacturer who has their best interest at heart. In the United States, “Made in America” has never been more important. It’s a win-win for everyone. If the products are being manufactured here, that keeps U.S. workers employed and helps support the economy. “American made” also means the customer gets a higher quality product that’s built to our governing bodies’ stringent safety standards. And, most importantly, the products get into the hands of those who need them far quicker.

In a time of so much uncertainty, being able to rely on a company to deliver on its promises stands out. Searching for businesses that are willing to take on the extra costs with their production, and put people and their service above profits, are the manufacturers that customers need to search for. Although supply chain disruptions have created a lot of issues, they’ve made customers question the products they use and search for manufacturers who can guarantee supply and are actually better aligned with their values and safety needs.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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