OHS Canada Magazine

Innovations in PPE: A look at new products designed to keep workers safe

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May 29, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety editor pick Levitt-Safety PPE

OHS Canada recently sat down with Levitt-Safety, a distributor of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Canadian workers, to pick their brains about the most interesting new products they have come across.

Q: What technology innovations have you seen recently that you think are making a big difference? Are you seeing more use of wearable technologies?

A: Jonathan McCallum, market segment manager, occupational health – industrial hygiene

Absolutely, there are 2 products that I would like to share.

The first is the SlateSafety Band V2 wearable designed to complement Heat Stress programs. The device is easy-to-use out of the box and provides key metrics like Exertion, Heart Rate, Core Temperature, GPS location, and SOS TapAlert for emergency notification if a wearer requires assistance. The Band V2 collects, transmits, and alerts on critical data in real-time via Bluetooth, Cellular, and GPS.

The second is the Svantek SV104A Noise Dosimeter. What makes this device special is the patented MEMS microphone with lifetime warranty, optional frequency analysis and audio recording features, and Bluetooth connectivity with a Smartphone App that allows the results to be viewed without interrupting the worker. Another innovation with this product is the introduction of post-processing software that allows the user to perform secondary analysis on high-noise, high-impact, or no-motion events to determine if they belong in the sampling calculations.


Q: Can you tell us about any new materials or designs being used to improve the effectiveness of PPE?

A: Leslie Molin, market segment manager – personal Safety

With the summer temperatures upon us there are a couple of great products that can help with heat stress.

The MSA V-Gard C1 Hard Hat uses patent-pending ReflectIR Thermal Barrier technology to keep the inside of the hard hat up to 20°F (11°C) cooler in sunny weather, making it the coolest hard hat on the market compared to those without ReflectIR. As well the full brim provides additional shade and sun protection.

Dragonwear offers the Pro-Dry FR T-Shirt in both men and women’s styles. Next to skin is becoming its own category of PPE and helps with the challenges of moisture management. These shirts are highly breathable and have a SILVERPLUS application that delivers antimicrobial coverage that provides odour control.

Q: How has COVID impacted the development of new PPE products for workplace safety?

A: Gary Rae, market segment manager – confined space

One of the things that came out of Covid is an increased awareness in respiratory protection and an appreciation of the need to choose the right kind of protection and to ensure that the respirator fits the user.

The average person had no idea what an N95 respirator was or that there are CSA standards for designing and manufacturing of the respirators themselves and for the detailed programs that must be followed for users of respirators. Another thing we learned was that these can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous if not fitted properly.

Covid brought out the best and the worst and shortages led to some questionable products coming in from all over the world. We were in a position where our sister Company NL Technologies was able to pivot and put the machinery in place to manufacture high quality Canadian made medical masks and to complete the introduction of our own Canadian made N95 respirator called Pleats Plus.

The fit and comfort of the Pleats Plus is second to none. Our hope going forward is that “Made in Canada” means something. Respiratory protection programs have always been a cornerstone of our success as a Safety Company. This increased awareness has kept us extremely busy.

A: Jonathan McCallum, market segment manager, occupational health – industrial hygiene

Covid has certainly raised the awareness of respiratory health and one development includes the integration of spirometry into the health surveillance portion of more respiratory protection programs in Canada. The addition of the “New” EasyOne Filter guarantees highly accurate measurements while ensuring high filter efficiency, low flow resistance, and minimal dead space volume.

Q: Have there been improvements to the comfort of PPE to help ensure workers wear it properly?

A: Gary Rae, market segment manager – confined space

One area of vast improvement has been in fall protection. Harness manufacturers have gone a long way to answer the demand for comfort and fit and not just performance and compliance. The leading manufacturers are recognizing the different sizes and shapes of an ever-evolving workforce and for the need to ensure that the product they make addresses the increased safety provided to a worker wearing a properly fitted and comfortable harness.

While bound by the performance standards outlined by the CSA Standard, they have been able to provide numerous design improvements that can adapt to every worker. The old “H” style chest design that was the standard has evolved to include “X” and “V” chest strap designs for greater freedom of movement and comfort as have the types of leg designs and configurations.

The addition of different types of padding options have increased comfort and the addition of numerous types of hardware have increased the ease of adjustability and reduced weight. Additions and options such as suspension trauma straps, lanyard keepers and special connectors for SRD’s add even more to the safety and comfort of what they now offer. Sizing and comfort has been taken into consideration across the full spectrum of price points, not just the premium products. A prime example is the MSA V-series (both ends of price spectrum shown).

Q: How are manufacturers making their PPE more sustainable and easier to dispose of/recycle if appropriate?

A: Leslie Molin, market segment manager – personal safety

Sustainable options are certainly growing.

In the Hearing category Biobased earplugs by Final Fit Safety. The earplugs are USDA certified 82% biobased. Everything is biobased – the earplug, the cord, and even the bag (its made from Canadian corn!). These earplugs start to breakdown within a year vs. 100 years for traditional earplugs. Their Pinch-Fit designs has eliminated the need to roll the earplug, you just pinch it and insert into the ear canal.

In hand protection Watson Gloves has a full line of WasteNot gloves made of recycled PET bottles. The 379 Stealth Phoenix offers a Cut A4, puncture ANSI 3 and features a reinforces thumb saddle and touchscreen compatible fingertips.

A: Derek McEwen, marketing segment manager – fire systems and mining technology

To help with PPE recycling we work with TerraCycle to recycle used PPE.

TerraCycle is on a mission to eliminate waste. They take items such as disposable mask, gloves, earplugs, disposable coveralls, and safety glasses and reuse the materials to create plastic lumber, composite decking, floor tiles and playground surface covers. The process is simple, order the Zero waste box from Levitt Safety, collect the used accepted PPE, ship the box directly back to TerraCycle and they will do the rest. A great way to support environmental stewardship.

Q: Any new products that work really well for ergonomics and preventing MSIs?

A: Jonathan McCallum, market segment manager, occupational health- industrial hygiene

Interest in Hand-Arm and Whole-Body Vibration along with HAVS awareness has been gaining momentum in Canada and we have recently introduced some innovative solutions. The Svantek SV103 Hand-Arm and SV100A Whole-Body monitors help safety professionals understand the workplace exposures and risks for various tasks.

These are complemented with the addition of the Reactec R-Link HAV watch and analytics platform. This platform allows a workplace to validate risk assessments, control daily workplaces exposures, and identify preventative control measures such as training or tool selection. The watch can also be used as a proximity warning device to alert workers when they are too close to dangerous locations or mobile equipment.

Q: What about products for women, or non-standard body sizes – are manufacturers responding to those needs?

A: Leslie Molin, market segment manager – personal safety

It’s great to see with manufacturers developing PPE specifically for women. Several manufacturers are now putting women in charge of design process.

Surewerx has their Pioneer brand of PPE that is specifically designed for women. Brand new to this line is the Hi-Vis Surveyor’s Safety Vest and 7-in-1 Jackets. The vest tailored for a woman, features 15 pockets, is water-repellent, and tear resistant and comes in comes in 8 sizes. The 7-in-1 Waterproof Jacket designed for a woman and provides the flexibility for changing weather.

Brand new to the market is Superior Gloves Endura 370DTIGL – Deer skin TIG welding gloves sized for ladies are designed with a cushioned patch on the pinky side to improve longevity and comfort while welding and sewn with DuPont Kevlar fiber to reduce the likelihood of getting burnt out when exposed to heat. The deer skin leather provides a high combination of durability, dexterity, and a fine sense of touch without forfeiting flexibility.

Lakeland has introduced a great line of FR/AR women’s apparel that includes long sleeve crew and Henley style knits as well as dual certified lightweight pants. It’s the variety of sizing that is truly appreciated. The knits come in regular and tall versions and the pants offer 4 different inseams which enables women to find their correct size.

Maternity wear is brand-new to the marketplace and an exciting development. Covergalls is leading the way with their new line of maternity workwear. The collection includes a button-up work shirt and cargo pant. The work shirt features a longer front to safety cover a growing belly and a tab hem with 2 snaps that allow the wearer to adjust the shirt waist as their body grows. The cargo pant has a rib knit front panel and high waist design. It’s great to see innovation and additional options for women in the workplace.

In footwear, Royer uses a women’s last which is a women’s foot mould for safety boots. There offering also addresses breathability and durability. We’ve had positive feedback from women when we show these boots at tradeshows.

Q: If you had to pick one new product that is the “coolest” or the biggest game changer over the last year or so, what would you say?

A: Jonathan McCallum, market segment manager, occupational health – industrial hygiene

The introduction of the Trolex Air XS Silica Monitor would certainly fit in this category. The Air XS is designed to provide detailed, accurate, real-time data on airborne RCS that will allow workplaces to act on live data where and when required. Measured information can be viewed via the instrument display or as historical readings via the accompanying application software.

For more information on these and other products, visit https://www.levitt-safety.com/


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