Trends in ... head and face protection
‘A sense of shared accountability’
Head and face protection cover critical areas of the body. To ensure workers wear personal protective equipment, the products should be comfortable, functional and able to be worn throughout the day, according to Aubrey Collier, product manager, industrial head and face protection, for Cynthiana, KY-based Bullard. After all, Collier noted, “Head and face protection products are some of the most personal protective equipment you can wear.”
A variety of technological advances have been made in the head and face protection field. In regard to head protection, Katie Mielcarek, marketing manager for Cleveland-based Gateway Safety Inc., said a ratchet adjustment feature can be beneficial to workers. “This type of adjustment prevents the helmet from easily slipping off of the head when a worker bends down,” Mielcarek said. “Plus, the ratchet does not need to be over-tightened to ensure a good fit.”
Another new technology used primarily in the head protection field aims to provide an environmentally friendly option. “The latest technology to emerge is the use of green polyethylene (GPE), which is manufactured from sustainable sugarcane-based ethanol,” Sue Pingree, product line manager, eye, face, hearing and hard hat accessories, and Eric Buzard, product line manager, face protection and industrial accessories, for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA, said in a joint email to Safety+Health. “Sustainable GPE still provides the same performance as resins made from non-renewable raw materials, delivering the same high level of head protection.”
New technologies are on the market for faceshields as well, according to Kevin Beckerdite, product manager, Fibre-Metal Face Shields, Honeywell Safety Products, Smithfield, RI. “For instance, new suspensions feature up to 300 percent more surface area to eliminate pressure points and deliver a secure, balanced and comfortable fit,” Beckerdite said. He also pointed out that new visor retention systems provide workers with the ability to switch out scratched or damaged visors in only 10 seconds.
Promoting proper usage
Experts acknowledge that misuse or complete lack of PPE use still occurs, and they have some advice to encourage PPE compliance. Pingree and Buzard noted that hazard assessments are a critical step in establishing a safety program. “A thorough assessment will help to determine the proper products and protection levels needed, and subsequently, which personal protective equipment is most suitable in providing protection for that specific criteria,” they said.
David Mowbray, category manager, head and face protection for Roswell, GA-based Kimberly-Clark Professional, recommends the use of worker education and training programs, stating that safety and production managers can work together to change imbedded attitudes and behaviors.
Ultimately, though, it is about more than changing behaviors. “In truth, site managers must connect with the hearts and minds of their employees, strengthening each site’s safety culture and building a sense of shared accountability amongst all employees to identify hazards and at-risk behaviors before the occurrence of an incident,” Mowbray said.
Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association