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Are you involved in any new innovations, product developments or pioneering research? If the answer is yes then we want to hear about it. In the fast-paced working garment industry we pride ourselves on providing our members with the latest information to keep their business ahead of the game. To participate in a feature download our features list here or email us at media@director-e.com

PPE Innovations
Feature: 11/3/2010

t's important for health and safety officers and procurement staff to keep up-to-date with the latest designs, fabrics and technologies in PPE to minimise the number of accidents that take place at work.

All workplaces present a number of day-to-day hazards for the worker but potential accidents can be easily avoided by a combination of good health and safety practice and by being properly equipped with the correct PPE.

This is why Direct Corporate Clothing decided to stage an informative one-day event for their customers on 10th March at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

Health and safety officers and PPE buyers from the transport and logistics, rail and utilities industries came to hear about the new innovations from six of DCC's supply partners – GORE-TEX, Marigold Industrial, Orbit International, UVEX, JSP and Carbon X.

The opening presentation was made by guest speaker Dr Tim Marsh who looked into the psychology behind safety culture. He made a number of important points using inventive analogies and by interacting with the audience through different tasks. In one example, he showed a video of a basketball team passing a basketball and asked the audience to count how many passes they made.

The audience was so busy counting the number of passes that most people failed to notice a man dressed up as a gorilla walk across the screen until the same video clip was shown for the second time. The passes symbolised productivity and how many of us are too busy focusing on targets that we fail to notice the health and safety issues that are right under our nose (the gorilla).

Communication and how to convey the importance of health and safety to a workforce was discussed as was the role of human error in why accidents happen. Tim stressed that systemic changes need to be made to ensure that the task is as easy to carry out as possible and so reducing the chances of error.

As Tim said himself, the points may appear straightforward but it takes a lot of hard work and effort to transform a safety culture and put this advice into practise. He added: “If the temptation is there to cut a corner, a lot of people will take it.”

W.L Gore followed with a comprehensive film on the scope of their GORE-TEX® portfolio, which encompasses windproof, waterproof and breathable garments as well as FR protective clothing.

Next up was non-flammable fabric CarbonX®. President of CarbonX® Tyler Thatcher flew in from the US to tell the delegation about CarbonX® 's ability to stand up to heat or flames of up to 3000 degrees.

CarbonX® fabrics are based on patented blends of high-performance fibres that the company says won't ignite, burn, char, shrink or significantly decompose when exposed to intense flame, molten metal, arc flash or high heat. Available in knit, woven and non-woven fabrics, CarbonX® can be found in base-layer garments, gloves, socks, hoods, workwear, shoes and boots.

JSP had a number of innovations to show, which wasn't surprising considering that the company invests significantly in R&D. Managing director Mark Johnstone proved that JSP aren't the UK's leading private manufacturer of above-the-neck PPE for nothing, by presenting what he called 'the strongest helmet in the world' – Mk8 Evolution. He even demonstrated its resiliency by bringing a 5kg weight crashing down on the product live on stage.

Mk8 Evolution claims to be three times stronger than any other industrial safety helmet on the market, meeting and exceeding the new EN 14052 standard. To find out more on this product and Filterspec – a brand new concept for respiratory and eye protection – read the April/May issue of director-e magazine, out the first week of April.

Orbit International is the link between Direct Corporate Clothing and CIRS – the group's 125,000 sq ft wholly-owned and dedicated manufacturing facility in China, which also has a 30,000 sq ft GORE-TEX® approved plant.

As well as designing and importing garments for DCC, Orbit offers its own bespoke products and has an extensive stock collection of workwear and PPE, which they sell through wholesalers. Sales director Ken Elavia said that a vertically integrated supply chain gives Orbit complete control of the production process from concept to completion.

“I have been in the industry many years but I have never been in a position where I can say 'our factory in China' and where we control it,” he said.

He also added: “Being a family business means that decisions are made very quickly and if you feel that there isn't something available on the market we will try to accommodate your needs.”

Paul Tierney from Marigold Industries set about familiarising the audience with the company's latest innovation – the Marigold Puretough P Series, which it believes is safer for the user and the environment. This is because the gloves don't contain solvents or DMF – a compound which has been linked to cancer and birth defects.

The three Puretough models P1100, P3000 and P5000 use a water-based environmentally friendly coating with non-solvent based PU. The gloves also have a water and oil repellent treatment on both liner and coating, are flexible for dexterity and are made from a lightweight seamless knitted glove.

Each model has varying levels of cut resistance and comes in a range of sizes. Paul said: “We believe that size matters and we need to get away from this one glove fits all mentality.”

UVEX focused on its eye protection and discussed the challenge of balancing functionality with the trend for stylish designs. The industries that require eye wear demand that they are shaped more like goggles to be fit for purpose. The problem with goggles, we were told, is that they tend to steam up. If the wearer is unable to see through the glasses due to fog, mist or scratches they are more likely to take them off or not wear them at all.

This is a key challenge for the eye wear manufacturer but they believe they've cracked it with their anti-fog coating for the inner lens and anti-scratch coating, which can be applied to the inner and outer part of the lens.

The coatings are permanent and the anti-fog coating has been claimed to outperform the EN166 anti-fog test by over 3.5 times.

The last word of the day was, of course, given to Direct Corporate Clothing. Sales director Mark Collins provided a company background of the specialist provider of workwear, PPE and corporate clothing.

He emphasised their commitment to providing a first class service and high quality garments. Impressive 75,000 sq ft warehousing facilities and being family-owned means that they can offer customers a flexible service and make decisions quickly. But the main emphasis was on adding value and reducing costs – areas where buyers are under pressure to show visible results.

He said that DCC are able to do both and also make the whole process a lot easier for the customer. For example, he said that customers can save money by taking advantage of DCC's in-house design team, which will redesign their brand or corporate style free of charge. DCC also have the capability to offer complete manpacking, on site embroidery and heat sealing, laundry partnerships and after care.

The day was not only about suppliers showcasing their innovations but it also offered buyers the chance to discuss their needs and whether they were being met. A mini-exhibition hall of stands where customers could meet with suppliers facilitated this. Regular interaction between buyers and suppliers is vital if the market is to continue to respond to the increasingly complex needs of the modern workplace.

In line with this, Direct Corporate Clothing announced that it would like to make the PPE Innovations Day an annual event. Considering the good turn-out at the inaugural event, there is no reason to see why an annual fixture wouldn’t be enthusiastically supported on both sides.

Author: Catherine Christie
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