Personal protective equipment (PPE) is safety gear that is designed to protect an individual from dangers to their health and safety. PPE has become increasingly important over the years as insurance costs continue to rise in the industrial and construction industries. The better PPE is at reducing injuries, the lower the costs. Advances in technology, materials, and design have led to significant improvements in PPE, making it more effective, safer, and even more comfortable for users. In this blog post, we will discuss four ways in which PPE has improved over the years.
More Comfortable Materials
One of the biggest complaints about PPE in the past was that it was uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. Today, manufacturers use breathable fabrics, lightweight materials, and advanced computer engineering to make PPE that is more comfortable and more effective. PPE is useless unless it is worn. If a respirator, pair of safety glasses, or earplugs cause discomfort the worker simply will not wear them. For example, nitrile coated, poly blend work gloves provide way more comfort and dexterity than a pair of leather palm work gloves. Your average pair of rubber work boots, usually clunky and heavy, are now made of lightweight and comfortable materials.
Designers are now creating PPE that is more user-friendly and ergonomic. For example, face masks are now available in a range of sizes and materials to fit a wider range of face shapes and sizes. Advances in design aid in providing a more secure fit, reducing the risk of the PPE slipping or moving around during use. PPE materials have changed radically over the years from leather and cotton to all sorts of better performing synthetic blends. Such design improvements provide better performance, and ultimately, better protection.
Advances in materials and design have led to PPE that provides better protection against a wider range of hazards. For example, disposable gloves are now made from materials that are resistant to punctures and tears, providing better protection against cuts and abrasions. Similarly, respirators are now available with combination all-in-one filters that provide protection against a wider range of particulate matter and vapors. In many styles of boots, heavy steel toes and shanks have been replaced with lighter and better performing polymer. Advances in ear protection have seen NRR ratings get higher and higher.
PPE that is designed to be used in harsh environments, such as construction sites, must be durable enough to withstand wear and tear. In the past, PPE was often made from materials that were easily damaged or torn such as leather or cotton. Today, manufacturers use tougher materials that can withstand the rigors of the job site, ensuring that PPE lasts longer and is more cost-effective. Nitrile blends, for example, have increased the life of gloves substantially. Safety glasses were once made of brittle types of plastic. Now many styles of safety glasses are made of bendable polymer blends.
In conclusion, PPE has come a long way over the years, with advances in materials, design, and technology leading to better protection, increased comfort, and improved durability. As the world faces new and emerging hazards, it is likely that PPE will continue to evolve, providing workers with the protection they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.