China International Occupational
Safety & Health Goods Expo




China International Occupational
Safety & Health Goods Expo


Trends in personal protective equipment 2019


Image: boonchai wedmakawand/iStockphoto


“Personal protective equipment” covers a wide range of ever-advancing products. Safety+Health, with help from the International Safety Equipment Association, recently reached out to PPE manufacturers with three questions: What trends are happening now, what challenges are your customers reaching out to you with, and what technological innovations are here or on the horizon?

Here are their responses:

1、What recent PPE trends have you observed?

 “Since OSHA regulation 1910.133(a)(2) went into effect, more thorough eye protection – that now includes side protection in specs – became required. Foamed eyewear quickly became the industry’s go-to solution for meeting this new standard. The unintended downside of the foam fix, however, turned out to be the increased fogging of specs due to body heat and the extreme working environment in which workers use them. Anti-fog-resistant technology is now the latest product trend emerging in our industry.”
– Felipe Macias, MLA/specialty markets sales manager, Encon Safety Products Inc., Houston


 “We are seeing a consolidation of suppliers as well as an emergence of private-label safety gear from large distributors who require more general purpose PPE. Innovations on specialized PPE are coming from the major manufacturers of safety equipment. One example is hand protection. The new ANSI/ISEA 138 impact standard for safety gloves went into effect recently, requiring a more stringent test method, classification and labeling for gloves that promise impact protection. Impact glove manufacturers are now held accountable for their claims, where in the past claims were made with very little to back them up.”
–Sofiane Laoussadi, vice president and general manager, global PPE, Honeywell Industrial Safety, Charlotte, NC


 “In the respiratory protective equipment market, we’re seeing more companies reassessing their respiratory protection to comply with the OSHA standard regarding facial hair and tight-fitting respirators. Employers and employees alike are coming to understand that even just minimal stubble is enough to break the seal on a tight-fitting respirator, rendering it ineffective. This has led to increased interest in loose-fitting respirators, which do not require fit testing and allow the operator to maintain whatever facial hair they like without compromising their protection.”
– Megan McConville, digital lead and content specialist, RPB Safety, Royal Oak, MI
 “In the hand protection category, comfort continues to reign supreme. There has been a noticeable increase in the amount of 15- and 18-gauge seamless machine knit gloves that many different manufacturers are now offering to yield newer levels of comfort. ANSI Cut Level A2 and ANSI Cut Level A4 are currently the most popular cut levels on the market and, when combined with these finely knit shells, produce gloves that supply continuous comfort without compromising cut resistance.”
– Loren Rivkin, executive vice president, Saf-T-Gard International Inc., Northbrook, IL
 “Lighter fabrics and special weaves are being utilized for lighter protective clothing that meets specific standards. Today’s PPE combines safety with improved aesthetics, and can even include ‘smart’ technology.”
– Mark Stanley, president, Stanco Safety Products, Atlanta, TX
 “Employers are moving in ever greater numbers away from lease-and-laundry [flame-resistant] clothing programs to managed purchase programs with the flexibility to offer their workers a wide range of clothing options designed to suit individual tastes. This power of choice has proven to enhance worker satisfaction, and even increase safety compliance.”
– Scott Margolin, vice president of technical, Tyndale Co., Pipersville, PA


2、What are customers reaching out to you about? What challenges are they relaying?

 “Style and comfort continue to be the two main features customers request in their PPE. The challenges are that while some styles look better than others, PPE must – first and foremost – keep the worker safe. Safety is always No. 1 when designing PPE, and sometimes that means forgoing style.”
– Stacey Simmons, product manager for industrial head and face protection, Bullard, Cynthiana, KY
“Tool tethering has been an increasing topic of discussion. Many are looking for the ‘how’ to do it. The launch of the new ANSI/ISEA 121 standard was a good first step, but more work is to be done. For instance, some wonder where they are to hook the tether. The standard sets guidelines on testing of anchors but doesn’t prescribe the limits of their use. Is anchoring to a fall protection harness or work belt OK? What about the workers’ clothes or overalls? Do you need a tested lifting point, or can you hook to scaffolding? Questions like these have users puzzled and, in some cases, stalled their installation of tool tethering.”
– Nicholas Voss, director of marketing, KEYBAK PRO, Ontario, CA
“There seems to be a lot of confusion these days about the difference between ‘arc flash’ and ‘arc rated’ gloves. Many manufacturers are developing gloves that are arc rated but provide no voltage protection, and can therefore lead to serious injury (or even death) if used in applications where there is exposure to electrical shock. The only hand protection that provides voltage protection is rubber insulating gloves. Education and awareness on this topic continues to be of the utmost importance, as using the wrong PPE to protect against the hazards encountered on the job could be fatal.”
– Loren Rivkin
“Workers in the field are looking for AR/FR garments that protect them from additional hazards such as disease-bearing insects, heat stress and more. Fortunately, manufacturers are responding with garments specifically designed to repel ticks and other dangerous insects, as well as garments that wick moisture from the skin more efficiently to help keep workers cool more effectively than ever before.”
– Scott Margolin


3、What innovations and technologies are here or on the horizon?

“Digital devices, hands-free wearable technologies that can monitor vitals or exposure limits to harmful elements/chemicals are the future innovations in the safety market.”
– Stacey Simmons

 “I see huge potential for the automatic transition lenses and polarized safety glasses in the years to come. The technologies behind these have not yet been perfected and have many pitfalls as of now. For example, the slow transition time from light to dark in the automatic specs is currently a hazard as it stands. However, with market shifts and increased funding, I believe these will become the next sought-after products.”
– Felipe Macias
“Hazards will be prevented or mitigated faster because of the new data-driven safety culture that is appearing on the horizon. Following the trend of the smart or connected home, companies are adopting safety gear such as gas monitors that rely on cloud-based connectivity to monitor workers and environmental conditions in real time, and respond faster to threats before they develop into catastrophic outcomes.”
– Sofiane Laoussadi
“[Cellphones] are indispensable and are often regarded as the ‘necessary evil’ of the industry. The challenge has been, how can we securely tether such an important tool without reducing its effectiveness? That problem has been solved, and products are now available that can secure the phone, preventing it from becoming a dangerous falling object while still allowing full use of the touch screens, cameras and without reduction in sound quality.”
–Nicholas Voss
“New materials and advanced engineering are making respiratory and other PPE more comfortable, lighter and safer than ever before. This is especially important because it helps it achieve its goal – to keep workers protected throughout their entire shift.”
–Megan McConville


“Leaders in the health and safety arena are beginning to turn to wearable technology. ‘Smart’ technology is being integrated into PPE and industrial apparel so that companies can help workers prevent injuries and improve worker productivity. Sensors in PPE are currently being developed to monitor things like fatigue, blood-alcohol levels, sweat levels and other vital signs.”
–Mark Stanley


 “Jobsite connectivity is becoming increasingly important for teams to promote not only productivity but safety in the field. There are new products being introduced in markets that allow for companies to enhance the individual worker. Technology is being integrated into garments, safety boots and hard hats. Technology allows for innovations in safety for the individual worker. GPS location of a worker allows for increased efficiency on a site and for locations to quickly be identified in emergency situations.”
– Allison Swank, founder and president, VisionVest LLC, New Kensington, PA

Share to: