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The Journal for Employee Protection
The Journal for Employee Protection
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According to estimates from Global Market Insights, Inc., the worldwide industrial safety gloves market size is anticipated to register a valuation of over $8 billion by 2025. The growth can be attributed to the numerous regulatory measures that are being put in place and mandated in order to ensure that the working conditions in manufacturing and related industries are safe and secure.
With Industry 4.0 becoming a predominant reality, myriad paradigm shifts are coming to be observed worldwide, especially pertaining to safety in the workplace. Modern factories and facilities are equipped with several fast-moving pieces of equipment, machinery, and vehicles, which can be potentially dangerous to workers. Even with compliance and safety regulations in place, accidents are still prevalent in the workplace, especially among newer, less experienced employees.
In order to bridge any potential skills gaps and reduce turnover rates, it is becoming increasingly essential for companies to ensure the safety of their workers. In fact, according to OSHA laws, employers are obligated to give their employees work conditions free of any known dangers. Safety in the workplace encompasses several factors, including chemical safety, emergency procedures, equipment safety, electrical safety, and fire safety, among others. Having an efficient workplace strategy in place includes the implementation of safeguards, the use of administrative controls, safety training for staff, and the provision of personal protective equipment.
Protective gear for hand safety is especially important in this regard. Rising prevalence of workplace injuries and increasingly favourable regulatory initiatives pertaining to worker safety are thus likely to stimulate the global industrial safety gloves market.
In industrial settings, especially in manufacturing, processing, and other similar businesses, there are a number of critical safety points that need to be considered. This is mainly due to the use of chemicals, heavy machinery, and other sensitive processes and materials in production systems. Industrial hazards range from ergonomic hazards from intense or frequent physical strain to chemical exposure to other physical risks such as heavy moving parts or heat. As per estimates from ILO (International Labor Organization) around 2.3 million men and women across the globe succumb to workrelated diseases or accidents each year, corresponding to more than 6,000 fatalities per day. Furthermore, over 340 million occupational accidents are observed worldwide.
“the worldwide industrial safety gloves market size is anticipated to register a valuation of over $8 billion by 2025”
These alarming statistics have made the identification of these workplace threats an important endeavour for all employers. This, in turn, has led to the introduction of many regulations and initiatives by state and federal agencies, aimed at mitigating potential work hazards through stringent safety training and provision of protective industrial products.
In modern facility management, preventative measures are coming to be perceived as smart and long term investments geared towards the wellbeing of the business. Safety measures offer considerable advantages to businesses, in terms of time and money as well as morale and productivity. Precautions by industrial sectors to enhance safety in the workplace involve the provision of robust protective gear, otherwise known as PPE.
Personal protective equipment refers to equipment designed to mitigate worker exposure to a range of hazards. This equipment spans across various types, including foot and eye protection, hearing protection, and gloves, among others.
Human hands are among the most important tools in industrial settings. Inadequate care or attention may therefore lead to potentially catastrophic outcomes. Studies suggest that hand injuries account for over one million medical emergencies across the US globally. Among these, nearly 70% of the injuries are associated with workers not wearing safety gloves, and the remaining being due to improper or damaged gloves. These statistics are indicative of the importance of workplace safety, especially the use of proper PPE such as industrial safety gloves and more.
Industrial gloves are useful for protecting workers against potentially hazardous situations, such as exposure to heat or cold, sharp objects, contact dermatitis, chemical burns, as well as myriad communicable diseases.
Given the rising awareness regarding the importance of strong protective gear, regulatory bodies across the globe, such as the Department of Labor and NSC (National Safety Council) in the U.S. have proposed various guidelines mandating the use of PPE, including safety gloves in high-risk industrial applications.
One of the most important developments in industrial safety is the emergence of the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). The organization supported by myriad other authorities such as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health), has worked on developing several standards for safety and health in sensitive work environments. The implementation of these standards has also contributed to easier record-keeping and reporting processes, which are an essential factor for employee and business security across the industrial landscape.
“safety measures offer considerable advantages to businesses, in terms of time and money as well as morale and productivity”
According to OSHA, nearly 70.9% of hand and arm injuries are preventable, with the use of strong industrial safety gloves. To that end, the organisation has developed targeted guidelines under the OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) Act, which have been enforced across the US. OSHA also mandates the compliance of various PPE categories to standards developed by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute), which has been a key player in the development of safety standards since the 1920s.
In 2016, ANSI set a new Cut Standard that involved the expansion of its existing 0-5 scale to span from A1 to A9 and also increased the hazards included, making room for more urgent cut hazards and driving innovation. The implementation of the new standard pushed manufacturers to experiment with novel core material combinations and innovative yarn wrapping methods, giving rise to a new class of gloves with effective cut-protection and optimum flexibility and comfort.
Automotive production is one of the most prominent sectors in the world, employing more than 1.7 million workers for a range of activities including engineering, designing, manufacturing, and supply of parts.
While protective gear is an important part of all industrial sectors such as manufacturing, construction, and the like, the automotive industry particularly requires careful PPE consideration, owing to the high number of hazards associated with automobile production. Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics claim that in 2011, employees in the automotive and light-duty motor vehicle production domain experienced higher injury and illness rates than workers in most other industries. One of the most prevalent workplace accidents in the automotive manufacturing domain is hand injuries. These can range from cuts to punctures to severe lacerations which can have potentially life-altering consequences. However, hand injuries are also among the most preventable accidents in the industry, provided proper PPE, such as industrial safety
gloves are used consistently and accurately on the job. Studies suggest that the industrial safety gloves industry from automotive applications is projected to exhibit a commendable growth rate of over 7% through 2025. The automotive manufacturing domain covers a vast range of task areas, spanning from paint shop, machining, moulding, stamping, body shop, maintenance, and logistics, among others, each of which requires different types of hand protection. In automotive applications, gloves developed with robust abrasion and cut resistance demonstrate the most potential as they offer a strong grip in oily as well as dry work environments.
“one of the most prevalent workplace accidents in the automotive manufacturing domain is hand injuries”
Early 2020 witnessed the rise of the dreaded coronavirus pandemic, which triggered one of the biggest global health crises in history. With authorities worldwide struggling to curb the further spread of the virus, the demand for PPE like disposable gloves is at an all-time high.
While protective gloves have been gaining prominence across industrial domains for a while, the recent pandemic has significantly boosted the popularity of the products in the industrial spectrum, in an effort to protect frontline workers from exposure to the infectious disease.
Disposable safety gloves especially have emerged as an integral segment in the industrial safety gloves industry, due to their one-time usage capability, which helps to mitigate the risk of infection through direct contact with infected people or objects.
Safety gloves in the medical domain are being used extensively to curb cross-contamination of toxic or infected objects, whilst maintaining optimum hand protection at the same time. In the COVID-19 era, the need for gloves, regardless of type, is becoming increasingly urgent. This includes the demand for 8-mil nitrile or latex gloves designed for specific applications such as industrial work environments, automotive repairs, and activities involving contact with machinery or tools. These gloves are highly durable and are thus able to provide better barrier protection against harmful chemical components.
For medical variants, gloves of 4 to 5-mil thickness are rapidly becoming the standard products for protection against contaminants or pathogens.
Despite the differences in thickness, however, there is one material that is demonstrating the highest potential in the development of effective safety gloves; nitrile. High resistance to petroleum oils, several acids, mineral oils, vegetable oils, water, and abrasions, among others, will considerably boost the nitrile industrial safety gloves market, which is anticipated to exhibit growth at an 8% CAGR through 2025, according to reliable reports. Nitrile gloves are gaining rapid traction in recent times, owing to their myriad benefits such as high tactile sensitivity, comfort, puncture resistance, and dexterity. Manufacturers are responding to this rising demand in earnest, developing glove models reinforced with synthetic polymers that are designed to take the place of conventional latex gloves in industrial applications.
In recent years there have been consistent strides in the industrial safety industry, in the form of new technologies and materials used to develop cut-resistant gloves, clothing, and sleeves, among other protective industrial products. PPE was predominantly made of stiff fabric that captured high levels of moisture and heat. Innovations in material technology have helped mitigate this issue, by facilitating the emergence of an array of products designed for better comfort and protection.
Historically, gloves used for industrial safety in the automotive, construction, and the oil and gas domains consisted of TPR (thermoplastic rubber)-based back of-hand protectors. Until recently, manufacturers were unable to make notable changes to the characteristics of the compositions involved in the safety gloves development. The only noticeable change to the composition was the use of either more plasticiser to make the gloves softer, or less to make them harder.
However, each approach had an adverse effect on various aspects of the product, including dexterity, comfort, or level of protection. While standards to measure the level of protection provided by industrial gloves against punctures, cuts, or chemical exposure have been in existence for several years, there has been no means to test the performance of the protective gear in safeguarding the user against back-ofhand impact injuries.
However, this is changing in recent years, with the back-of-hand impact category gaining rapid traction in hand safety. The ANSI is at the forefront of this evolution, owing to its collaborative effort with the ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association) to release a new set of standards aimed at revolutionising the way workers deal with hand protection selection in occupations with potential impact hazards. The ANSI/ISEA 138 dorsal impact protection standard, released in February 2019, was designed as a dedicated industrial safety gloves standard, geared towards changing the way workers’ hands are safeguarded in industries with real and prevalent impact hazard risks.
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