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Features, Products

Improving worker safety with innovative PPE

With a rise in infrastructure projects, as well as considerations such as COVID-19 safe practice, it’s more pressing than ever that workers have quality, comfortable PPE to keep them safe on the job.

With a rise in infrastructure projects, as well as considerations such as COVID-19 safe practice, it’s more pressing than ever that workers have quality, comfortable PPE to keep them safe on the job.

Working in construction is inherently dangerous, with a high risk of accidental injuries or long-term health and safety complications. This is especially crucial given that, on average, one in six workplace fatalities in Australia each year are construction-related.

Respiratory illnesses and hand injuries are common risks site managers and employers need to protect their workers from.  A well-thought out safety program therefore often starts with choosing the right personal protective equipment (PPE).

Blackwoods, Australia’s largest supplier of fit-for-function quality personal protective equipment and safety products, has respirators and cut resistant gloves that are ideal for protecting workers from common hazards in the construction industry.

The new PROSAFE trifold respirators, which are available both with and without valves, are designed to comply with P2 respiratory filter rating ­– 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 Martin.

“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 takes away barriers that stop people from wearing them.

Martin 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 Martin.

The new PROSAFE P2 trifold respirators are equipped with a class of filter recommended for specific infectious control applications such as H1N1 influenza. With increased safety precautions in workplaces in light of COVID-19 pandemic, having a respirator that can protect workers against spread of virus can be an additional bonus.

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 construction 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, Blackwood’s 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 Kyrene range of gloves uses graphene in the fibre to aid with its comfort and cut resistant properties for the end user. This gives construction workers a product that’s comfortable to wear for extended period of time 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 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.

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

“You don’t want to use gloves with higher cut ratings than necessary, because while protection is important, people should also have the dexterity to their job well. A Kyorene glove with cutting rate of B or C is probably sufficient for most general applications. An F cutting rate is ideal for people at extreme cut hazards such as sheet metal and glass cutters,” he explains.

Further, Wood 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, Wood believes employers and site managers 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.”

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