Workplaces, particularly those that require the use of electricals, pose a considerable risk to workers. Often times, the primary barrier between an electrical worker and electrocution is the use of appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE. Items as simple as insulating sleeves or arc-rated safety gloves can help safeguard workers against injury while carrying out their tasks.
Since electrical procedures are considered fairly dangerous, owing to the looming risk of shock or electrocution, companies rely on a range of electrical safety PPE to ensure the safety of their employees. This protective gear includes a vast array of products such as apparel manufactured using shock-resistant fabrics, boots & gloves with superior insulation properties, protective gear for the face and eyes and complete arc -flash protective gear, among others.
Escalating risks of electrocution is driving the need for appropriate electrical safety PPE
Accidental exposure to energized components and the subsequent threat of electrocution or shock have long posed a threat to workers dealing with electrical activities. In fact, studies suggest that exposure to electrical currents represented nearly 2.6% of all fatalities in the workplace in 2017.
While PPE in some form or the other has been in existence for quite a while, the original PPE were found to be bulky, warm and uncomfortable to navigate in. These factors led many electrical workers to avoid wearing the safety gear, making them more vulnerable to electrical mishaps during their tasks. Earlier versions of PPE were also cost prohibitive which added to their unpopularity.
The electrical safety PPE market has observed considerable growth in recent times, however, owing to stringent regulatory mandates pertaining to worker safety as well as growing awareness regarding the risks of working in an electrically charged environment.
Wearing PPE became mandatory following the passing of the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) of 1970, indicating great progress in protecting electrical workers from injuries on the job. This renewed focus on workplace safety also gave rise to the National Fire Protection Association standard for electrical safety, namely the NFPA 70E in 1979.
The NFPA 70E outlines safety protocols, including the use of PPE, to be adhered to while carrying out tasks, in order to safeguard workers against electrical arc blast and arc flashes. The mandate has undergone several updates over the year, the most current of which was in 2018.
With this rapid evolution in safety standards as well as immense development in arc-rated clothing science, modern electrical safety PPE has become more comfortable, lightweight, easily maneuverable and economical than previous versions, contributing to higher adoption of the equipment among electrical workers.
For instance, Lakeland Industries has introduced a new range of high visibility, mid-weight FR/AR apparel designed for electrical utility linemen. This gear leverages the company’s flagship moisture management system and offers excellent athletic fit, breathability and high-performance FR properties. The products also comprise multi-weight fabrics that ensure optimum layering efficiency, exceptional stretch properties and maximum comfort.
Health risks associated with PPE and high costs may hamper industry expansion
Protective gloves can often harbor certain dermatitis allergens stemming from sweat, dirt and bacteria accumulation inside the gear. This could pose considerable health risks to workers and affect their efficiency, which would in turn hamper electrical safety PPE market growth.
Furthermore, with strict policies regarding the production of safety equipment, arising from the use of high-quality fabrics may lead to a surge in compliance costs, which can pose a challenge to electrical safety PPE market profitability in the years ahead.
Shifting customer propensity towards lighter and more aesthetically pleasing safety equipment serves as a prolific industry trend
Keeping in mind the consumer preference for more comfortable and efficient protective gear, electrical safety manufacturers are working tirelessly towards developing new products which combine the benefits of both comfort and safety. PPE producers are incorporating special weaves and lighter fabrics in their products, which can add an aesthetic value to the gear without compromising on safety compliance. The latest PPE innovations also feature smart technology for added efficiency.
Since FR fabrics are a vital part of electrical safety gear, manufacturers are focusing on creating FR materials that are softer and more comfortable while retaining their protective properties.
To illustrate, Milliken has created Westex, a new, robust and customizable range of revolutionary fire and arc resistance fabrics. Dubbed UltraSoft Flex, the fabrics offer improved mobility and comfort to allow workers to move around comfortably on the job. The fabrics are also reinforced with flame resistant properties, making the product a multi-hazard protection fabric that will appeal to electrical workers.
Innovations in PPE and peripheral products will provide lucrative growth prospects
There are significant developments taking place in PPE peripherals as well. For instance, the new Extractor 30 washing machine from Ready Rack is built to comply with the latest NFPA 1851 standards. The machine, used extensively in the firefighting domain, feature front load capabilities, and a 30-pound drum which can allow three or four sets of protective gear to be washed in one cycle.
Also, with the benefits of donning electrical safety PPE becoming more and more apparent with every passing day, employers and workers alike are gravitating towards higher adoption of these materials and it is expected that the products will continue to gain even more traction in the years to come.https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/electrical-safety-ppe-market