Improving worker safety with innovative PPE

Respiratory illnesses and hand injuries are common risks site managers and employers need to protect their workers from. Selecting the right personal protective equipment (PPE) is therefore a critical element to the hierarchy of control for managing workplace risks.

Blackwoods, Australia’s largest supplier of fit-for-function quality PPE and safety products, is the exclusive distributor of a new range of disposable respirators and cut resistant gloves designed to protect workers from common hazards on worksites.

Respirators designed for fit and function

The new PROSAFE trifold respirators, which are available both with and without valves, are designed to comply with P2 respiratory filter ratings ­– meaning they can effectively protect users against dust, mist and fumes.

Jon Martin, Technical Safety Specialist for Blackwoods, says the new PROSAFE respirators are designed with maximum user safety and comfort in mind.

“These respirators are designed to comply with AS/NZS 1716:2012. This is the manufacturing standard that helps ensure the masks can effectively prevent users against entry of small particles from the atmosphere,” says Jon.

“Additionally, PROSAFE respirators have also been put through a fit testing process, with very positive results. This test actually measures the percentage of particles that can get through the mask after it’s been fitted on the face. While everyone has different facial features, we still want to ensure that we have a good rate of fit testing when we introduce a new product to the market,” he adds.

A challenge for any PPE manufacturer is to make a product that’s comfortable enough and removes the barriers that stop people from wearing them.

Jon says the new trifold respirators do just that.

“The valved PROSAFE trifold respirators are fitted with one-way filters that allow hot air to escape, so they can be used in hot environments with maximum comfort. The trifold design itself is perceived by workers to be a more comfortable option compared to conical and flat-fold masks. So that also helps minimise the likelihood of people not wearing their masks,” says Jon.

Keeping the hands protected

Hands are crucial to the performance of everyday tasks. An injury causing loss of function, grip, motion or even amputation, can be extremely debilitating to workers.

With wearing appropriate safety gloves reported as reducing the incidence of hand injury by around 60-70 per cent, it is no wonder that Australian legislation takes hand protection seriously.

Employers are required to provide application-specific PPE at no cost to employees – as well as assessing all other WHS options found in the hierarchy of control.

Shane Wood, Blackwoods’ National Category Manager for Hand Protection says the PROSAFE Kyorene cut protection gloves with graphene fibre are the ideal protective gloves where hand injuries are a potential hazard.

“The Kyorene range of gloves use graphene in the fibre to aid with its comfort and cut resistant properties for the end-user. This gives workers a product that’s comfortable to wear for extended period of times so that they don’t need to take the gloves off to do their job.”

PROSAFE Kyorene gloves are rated for their cut resistant capabilities based on the EN388:2016 standard. The standard sets a cut rating from A to F, with an A rating representing the lowest level of protection and an F level representing maximum cut and impact protection.

Shane says it’s important that gloves with an optimum level of cut protection are selected for each application.

“You don’t want to use gloves with a higher cut rating than necessary, because while protection is important, people should also have the dexterity to their job well.

A Kyorene glove with a cutting rate of B or C is probably sufficient for most general applications. An F cut rating is ideal for people at extreme cut hazards such as sheet metal and glass cutters,” he explains.

Further, Shane says the PROSAFE Kyorene gloves offer a fair balance when it comes to their price.

Equipped with knowledge around the latest PPE available in the market, Shane believes employers will be in a better position to protect workers.

“Most people are oblivious to the latest technology in hand protection, as well as other critical PPE. Our job at Blackwoods is to make sure that we understand the customers’ requirements properly, so that we can supply them with the right product for the right application.”

Stay up-to-date on the latest safety trends and innovations

The brand new edition of Safety Spotlight magazine is out now! A must read for work, health and safety professionals to stay updated on all things safety.

Safety Spotlight explores the most important issues faced by Australian industry in keeping their teams safe. The magazine features 32 pages of articles from Blackwoods Technical Safety Specialists as well as leading brands in the world of safety.

View online today.

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