You work hard to create a zero-injury safety culture, and the PPE garments you and your team rely upon are a considerable factor in achieving that goal—one that deserves serious consideration. How can you improve safety with your next round of PPE? Prepping for the selection process can really help you maximize the opportunity to incorporate greater safety in your team's workwear. That's why we've created this list of points to address when you're getting ready to upgrade your company's PPE garments. Keep it handy, and if you have additional questions as you go through the list, feel free to reach out to a TenCate Protective Fabrics expert to get advice on what will suit your team's needs best.
Standards to Meet
If you haven't done a thorough risk assessment in a while, the period before you begin shopping new PPE garments is a great time to take stock of what requirements your workwear needs to meet in order to be compliant with safety standards. It's also a good time to check in on those standards: has anything changed since your last PPE selection? Have any processes changed in the workplace that have introduced or eliminated risks? Reconciling any updates to standards and processes will give you a clearer idea of what protections exactly you will need your new PPE to include. At TenCate Protective Fabrics, we regularly assist Safety Managers with determining what PPE requirements they will need to meet based on a risk assessment, so you're not on your own if you have questions about standards.
Innovations in Comfort
After years of just accepting that FR garments are hot and uncomfortable, manufacturers like TenCate Protective Fabrics are challenging that assumption and have made major strides toward creating FR garments that breathe, stretch, and offer comfort akin to that of regular clothing. The new assumption is that all FR garments meet protective requirements—the next level of protection lies in providing greater comfort. The more wearable PPE garments are, the better protection they provide by encouraging workers to wear them correctly. When heat stress is a concern, finding new PPE that keeps your workers as cool as possible is key. That's why you should take the time to get an update on what's new in the marketplace that can increase comfort with greater breathability, flexibility, and a better overall fit. From fabric selection to the overall fit and finish of the garment, each facet can contribute to creating a new higher standard in comfort for your team, and thereby a new standard in safety.
While it may be tempting to choose a cheaper option on the front end, it's important to also consider the long-term value and durability of the product you choose. In some cases, a more expensive option may actually be more cost-effective in the long run because it will last longer and need to be replaced less often. It's important to consider the overall program cost, including not only the initial price of the garment but also the cost of maintenance and replacement over time. How long the garment is expected to last? How often will it need to be laundered and how many washes will it stand up to? Looking at the value and durability of the product will help you make the most cost-effective choice in the long run.
Wear Trial Timing
It is extremely important to consider what time of year is best to conduct a wear trial for candidate garments. If your employees will be wearing their PPE workwear mostly outside in summer months, having a wear trial in the winter will not give you an accurate picture of how those garments will perform in the punishing heat of summer. Since we know that comfort is the next level of protection, you need to ensure that the PPE you select will mitigate heat stress when the risk is highest: in those warmer months.
Manufacturer and Distributor Choice
Who will you buy from? Are they familiar with your company's needs? Who are you connected to within the value chain and who can you call with questions? Although TenCate Protective Fabrics does not construct the actual garments that end users end up in, we are extremely involved with the manufacturers and distributors of those garments to ensure that our fabrics are developed with those end users in mind. We work closely with all partners in the value chain to empower end users to be great, and safe, at what they do. Choosing manufacturers and distributors who can support you throughout the PPE selection process is critical.
By working through each of these points of consideration, you can set yourself up for success when it comes time to select new PPE garments. As always, TenCate Protective Fabrics is here to help guide you through all these questions and more. Reach out any time to connect with one of our FR fabric specialists to discuss your safety needs and how TenCate Protective Fabrics can help.