A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

December 8, 2014

New Safety Equipment is Lighter, More Comfortable Than Ever

safety glasses, safety shoes, hard hats required beyond this point
Even with modern, comfortable equipment,
PPE safety signs can improve employee compliance.
Way back when, worksite safety equipment was often heavy, uncomfortable and even interfered with the work. Small wonder that so many workers bypassed safety precautions as managers either looked the other way or were forced to take disciplinary action against employees who refused to use standard-issue equipment. Neither is an acceptable solution.

Safety Equipment Manufacturers are More Responsive Than Ever

Today, safety equipment manufacturers have listened to workers and safety pros, and are making safety equipment from new materials, in more sizes and new configurations so their products are more wearable than ever. 3M, for example, released safety goggles that include "reader" lenses for workers who have trouble seeing fine-print, such as safety instructions.

Similarly, the Society for Human Resource Management has worked with personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers to debunk myths that kept some workers from wearing even basic protections like gloves. There are now latex-free gloves for those with an allergy, as well as gloves with textured finish to improve grip. 

PPE also can't be treated as a one-size-fits-all. During hot summer months, for example, workers might be tempted to remove protective gear like goggles. This can be countered by providing weather-appropriate equipment, such as anti-fogging eyewear, neck shades and cooling bandannas, suggests Equipment World, which also urges more frequent breaks during hot weather. 

Even High Risk Occupations are Lowering Accident Rates

When you think of dangerous workplaces, construction often tops the list. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says this occupation has the highest overall number of fatal injuries, although it has been steadily dropping since reaching a high in 2006. 

Construction firms have lowered many nonfatal injuries by requiring workers to wear safety gear like steel-toe boots and hardhats on construction sites ranging from high-rise buildings to roadwork. In fact, this protective footwear has evolved to become so comfortable and light that it is used in virtually all outdoor occupations. 

Steel-toe boots are effective at reducing foot injuries in environments with heavy tools and materials, as a research team with the orthopedic department at Massachusetts General Hospital learned. Feet enclosed in regular boots had more than twice the number of metatarsal injuries than those wearing protective boots. 

Focus on Fall Prevention Includes More Comfortable Harnesses

A recent report in The Wall Street Journal illustrates how more stringent safety requirements within the same industry can prevent serious injury or death depending on where someone works. In Arizona, residential builders are fighting OSHA rules to require safety harnesses for their workers. Almost half of all deaths at residential construction sites result from falls, and falls off residential roofing projects represent 80 percent of deaths in this sector. Even more sobering, there was a 23 percent increase in deaths resulting from falls at residential construction sites in 2013. 

But at commercial construction sites, where safety harnesses are required, falls make up less than one-third of deaths. Some builders claim harnesses will impede work, but according to ForConstructionPros, modern safety harnesses can be worn inside jackets, making them comfortable and easy to use. 

Safety equipment makers have clearly heard the message that PPE must be comfortable and fit properly - in addition to meeting safety standards. 

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  1. It's pretty incredible that they've been able to reduce the weight and bulkiness of safety equipment. I'd imagine that that was a big issue before. It seems like the heavier the equipment, the more accidents there would be since employees wouldn't be able to move as well. It's good to know that while the equipment now is lighter, it's still just as good, if not better, at protecting people.

  2. You need tough rugged protective footwear on the job. The question is: do you need composite toe or steel toe boots? First, check with your workplace. Are steel toe caps required? They might be if you work in construction or manufacturing - and, if that's the case, then your decision is easy to make!I find this website for Best Steel Toe Work Boots. You can visit this site.