Winners of Challenge to Improve Protective Gear Announced

Winners of Challenge to Improve Protective Gear Announced

First place was awarded to a team for its PPE design accommodating multiple body types.

Although PPE comes in many sizes, they may not fit every worker, and one size does not fit all. 

Earlier this year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), with HeroX, a marketplace for crowdsourcing, and NASA Tournament Lab started the “NIOSH Protective Clothing Challenge—Leaving No Body Unprotected” to innovate solutions for better-fitting PPE. According to a NIOSH news release, 35 teams entered the challenge to improve fit specifically for “medical gowns, firefighter turnout coats and pants, and protective coveralls for various sectors.” Recently, the winners of the challenge were announced.

The first-place team, who received $25,000, was the NBU/ED Collaboration Group. This team submitted the Omni-Fit PPE Gown with Contamination Indicator, a “self-conforming personal protective equipment (PPE) that adapts to various ranges of body types with use of an accordion style adjustable waist band and length,” NIOSH said.

Second place went to Susan Sokolowski’s Team for the Apples-2-Apples Measures + Pattern Drafting Method. This “maximizes appropriate anthropometric measures to develop more inclusive pattern drafts for turnout gear,” according to NIOSH. Susan Sokolowski’s Team was given $15,000.

Three teams were awarded third place and $5,000. Maine Lee Technology Group, LLC won for its Bifunctional AAMI Surgical Sleeve that “creates an internal wicking environment while establishing an impervious external barrier,” according to NIOSH. Katie Schumacher won for the PPE Advanced Fit Certification for Organizations, a way to earn PPE certification by “helping employees become more aware of how their PPE fits,” NIOSH said. Fatma Baytar won for the Covering All by Improving Unisex Sizing. According to NIOSH, the project will “develop a unisex sizing system to improve users’ safety.”

“It’s vital that workers have access to properly fitting protective clothing—not only for their own comfort, but for their safety,” said Dr. Maryann D’Alessandro, director of NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory in the news release. “We congratulate and thank our Challenge winners, who provided unique and innovative solutions that will help make sure protective clothing is designed to fit all workers.”

About the Author

Alex Saurman is a former Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety,who has since joined OH&S’s client services team. She continues to work closely with OH&S’s editorial team and contributes to the magazine.

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