Protective Clothing

Trends in ... protective clothing

Educate and involve workers

A constant concern surrounding protective clothing? Workers not wearing what they’re provided. That’s according to Melissa Dixon, director of product management at National Safety Apparel in Cleveland.

Additional concerns, including supply chain issues, have popped up in recent months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors, adds Barbara Fitzgeorge, vice president of marketing for Pipersville, PA-based Tyndale.

Safety+Health spoke with both experts to get their thoughts on these issues, as well as to find out what their customers are wondering about and what’s new in the protective clothing industry.

What concerns or questions are customers coming to you with about protective clothing? What advice do you give?

Dixon: There are always concerns about workers not wearing the PPE they are provided. Educating workers on the hazards they face, as well as when and how to wear their PPE properly, plays an important role in compliance. Involving workers in the process of evaluating and selecting PPE can also increase compliance, as workers are more likely to wear PPE they find comfortable. Products and technologies that address worker comfort not only encourage compliance but often increase productivity by eliminating the distraction of physical discomfort.

Fitzgeorge: The protective clothing industry is experiencing many of the same challenges facing other industries: an unprecedented inflationary period; global supply chain challenges; labor shortages, which are impacting manufacturing, shipping and delivery of product; and skyrocketing shipping costs. Combined, these factors have led to significant price increases in raw materials and labor used to manufacture flame-resistant apparel and other products. What should companies look for in a supplier to ensure critical safety products are available when needed?

  • Strong inventory position – to weather the storm of extended delivery delays.
  • Excellent company culture – helps ensure the company is fully staffed to maintain service levels.
  • Stable financial position – helps to mitigate the impact of inflation.
  • Continued innovation throughout the pandemic.

What are some recent innovations 
in the protective clothing industry?

Dixon: Weight used to play a key role in the protective value of flame-
resistant fabrics, but as textile technology has evolved, weight is no longer synonymous with protection. Different combinations of fibers and textile structures have led to the development of extremely lightweight fabrics that provide the same or better protection than their heavier predecessors. Until recently, CAT 4 arc flash protection could only be achieved by combining multiple layers of fabrics. Now, CAT 4 can be achieved with a single layer fabric over 50% lighter than traditional layered solutions.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Ladders/lifts
  • Lighting/flashlights

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