Workplace hazards from contact with mechanical, physical, chemical, electrical or radiological components can lead to significant injuries. In fact, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), nearly 2.3 million workers worldwide, succumb to workplace accidents annually, amounting to nearly 6000 deaths per day. Furthermore, over 340 million work accidents & diseases claim nearly 160 million victims each year across the globe.

The risk of these hazards can be considerably mitigated by promoting the usage of personal protective equipment or PPE. PPEs create a barrier between workers and their environment, thus shielding them from potential health or safety risks. While personal protective equipment is not the primary factor in the hazard control hierarchy, it still presents significant advantages when used appropriately.

Personal protective equipment includes safety gear that shields workers from occupational injury or illness hazards. PPE includes a vast array of safety products designed to safeguard different parts of the human body, according to the exposure risk posed by the workplace. With awareness regarding workplace safety increasing, employers are proactively ensuring the availability of efficient PPE gear for employees. This allows them to not just safeguard their workers but also to mitigate costs usually lost on medical expenses, worker compensation and added production time.

Companies are taking stock of the increasing demand for protective equipment and taking steps to cater to worker safety requirements. For instance, construction firm Skanska USA has recently revealed plans to provide safety gear designed especially for female workers. This move is characterized by the growing number of female workers in the construction industry, and lack of properly fitting female-oriented safety equipment.

Rising awareness

While immense developments have been made in the improvement of OSH over the past years, nearly 317 million non-fatal & 321,000 fatal occupational accidents occur worldwide each year. This means that every 15 seconds, almost 151 workers experience a work-related hazard. One of the primary factors contributing to OSH is the use of personal protective equipment. In fact, PPE was the largest segment at the A+A event, the world’s biggest safety, security and health trade fair.

The Dusseldorf-based event saw over 1,100 exhibitors this year in the PPE segment. The German PPE market volume also witnessed a profound increase from €1.92 billion in 2016 to nearly €2.23 billion in 2018. This massive development is largely attributable to employers’ rising propensity towards safeguarding and educating their workers regarding workplace safety.

The manufacturing sector, in general, requires a vast array of protective gear as the industry comprises myriad application areas that may pose diverse risks. For example, face and eye protection gear like helmets, goggles and hand shields are required in the welding industry. This is due to the high risk of exposure to radiation, irritation, chemical burns and intense light in the sector.

Emergence of stringent regulatory standards

The provision of personal protective equipment to workers is mandatory for employers in order to comply with stringent regulatory policies. Authorities like OSHA have enlisted certain mandates which require employers to safeguard their workers against any hazard they may encounter in the workplace.

Furthermore, the ANSI and EU have issued updated safety standards urging PPE manufacturers to produce comfortable, ergonomic products. Following numerous PPE safety revisions since 2016, there has also been a profound change in the production of work gloves.

Safety managers across several industries follow standards set by the National Electrical Safety Code or NESC. It outlines various rules for the protection of workers and the public during operation, installation, maintenance and other such activities. Likewise, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, NFPA 70E, also enables firms to avoid workplace accidents and deaths caused by electrocution, shock, arc flash, etc.

Rising demand for efficient hand safety equipment

Employee hand injuries comprised over one million medical emergencies in the U.S. per year, of which around 70% are a result of lack of effective safety gear. These statistics are a testament to the importance of using personal protective equipment in the workplace, particularly gloves.

The primary application of safety gloves is to protect the hands against greasy or oily substances in the workplace. These products are used across myriad industries including construction, chemical, automobile, mining, metal fabrication and more. The gloves are used extensively for their oil and water-resistant properties, better grip and anti-impact characteristics. Safety gloves are usually multipurpose and can be used to safeguard workers against various workplace risks.

OSHA has introduced numerous safety gear guidelines to be employed under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act. PPE manufacturers have been upgrading and redesigning products accordingly in order to maintain optimum compliance with safety standards.