PPE Innovations—What’s in It For You?
The safety industry continues to shift with the latest technology built to last.
- By John Heniff
- Aug 01, 2022
New developments in PPE technology are constantly being researched, created and released. But you may be tempted to ask what’s in it for you? If your PPE is working, why do you need an “innovation?” The answer: better protection, fewer injuries, increased comfort, easier compliance and happier workers.
Whether your workers want cut protection that feels comfortable, impact protection that is lean, or protection from the heat that will last for hours, new technologies can provide the defense and relief you may not have known existed! And the secret many people don’t realize is that many of these advancements make for more durable PPE that lasts longer and might even save you money over time.
High Cut Resistance in Light and Comfortable Gloves and Sleeves
Workers who wear standard cut-resistant gloves when handling small parts or using electronic devices may be tempted to take them off if they get in the way. This wastes time, decreases their productivity and puts them at risk of injury.
New materials have been developed to achieve cut resistance as high as ANSI Level A9 while still being comfortable and lightweight. These developments are used to create gloves and sleeves that are over 50 percent lighter than similar HPPE of the same cut level. They’re also specifically engineered to make a worker’s skin feel cooler within a featherlight and breathable shell that almost feels like a second skin.
How is this possible? Magid created a proprietary yarn that is lightweight yet stronger and more flexible than stainless steel. The resulting material’s dexterity and tactile sensitivity enables your workers to pick up and assemble small parts like nuts and bolts without taking their gloves off.
Lightweight Protective Clothing for Dangerous and Hot Industries
Older cut-resistant sweaters used for working in dangerous environments like glass plants were often made from materials that felt heavy and hot. Over time, they could also stretch out for a poor fit and wear out areas with higher abrasion risk like the abdomen.
PPE manufacturers have taken these problems into account to create new solutions so your workers no longer have to be uncomfortable or hot to stay protected. New technology along with the latest yarn-wrapping techniques create garments that are 30 percent lighter than similar garments and won’t trap as much heat against a worker’s body. Even with this lighter-weight and cooler design, these tops have a higher level of cut-resistance to protect your workers’ abdomen, neck, wrists and forearms.
Coreless Comfort with High Cut Protection
Coreless technology has become a popular innovation in gloves and sleeves over the last few years. Unlike materials made with yarn that have cut-resistant cores made of fiberglass, steel or basalt that can fray and scratch your workers’ skin, yarn made with coreless technology is infused with strength-enhancing microparticles that don’t cause discomfort or irritation. And now, the latest developments in coreless PPE provide lightweight cut-resistance up to ANSI Cut Level A6 that’s 30 percent lighter than similar gloves with the same cut level. This coreless technology also feels cool to the touch so your workers’ hands will feel comfortable all through their shift.
Impact Protection for Lighter-Duty Jobs
Old-style impact gloves tend to cause hand fatigue, and even some of the newer, more flexible impact gloves can be a bit too much for lighter duty jobs like construction, I&E or maintenance that carry enough impact risk to be rough on the hands. For these jobs, a lighter work glove without impact protection might not provide the necessary defense for the top of the hands to prevent bruising and more serious injuries.
To remedy this, PPE manufacturers took a soft and cool work glove and added light and comfortable, low-profile impact protection to the back of the hand. This makes the glove flexible and dexterous without causing hand fatigue because the impact defense system is 60 percent thinner than standard impact protection resulting in a glove that is 40 percent lighter than standard impact gloves.
Body Cooling Gear that Works All Day
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, heat stress causes over 4,000 workers to become seriously injured or die every year in the United States. But with the proper protocols in place, such as acclimatizing workers to the environment, providing cool hydration options like water or electrolyte-replacing sports drinks, and giving them the latest body cooling gear, your workers can navigate and work in the heat more safely.
To make better body cooling gear, proprietary and chemical-free cooling technology has been designed to cool 30 degrees Fahrenheit below the average body temperature, activate in approximately a minute and stay cool for up to two hours. These materials can also work with any temperature of water so your workers can use any source of water to activate and reactivate them again and again through the day and save their cool water for hydration and refreshment.
How this material works is two-fold. Absorbent outer layers enhance the natural evaporation process while the inner layer retains water using a unique micro-groove system. This technology is used in a variety of garments such as bandanas, neck gaiters/face covers, towels and skull caps to fit the needs of various work environments so everyone can find a way to stay cooler.
Even if what you have is working, there might just be something better that you don’t yet know about! The latest PPE innovations and technologies can make life easier, safer and more comfortable for you and your workers. Try them out and see if they’re a good fit for you and your team.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.