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Today’s Work Environment Requires New PPE Technologies

Engineered tooling systems for aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, and industrial applications give high-performance cutting and abrasive action. As an example, companies have developed super-abrasive products that include metal, resin, and hybrid bonds and use different abrasive shapes. The speed and complexity of modern tool operations increase the risk of accidents for workers cutting, filing, grinding, deburring, and smoothing assembled parts.

The Newest PPE Technologies Prevent Injuries

New glove and high-performance garment technologies include liners and coatings that yield tougher materials that nonetheless provide dexterity and comfort. Innovative liner materials include graphene, advanced composite fibers, new fiber technologies and yarns, and layered materials that include perforation plates. Coatings have evolved from the familiar nitrile rubber coatings to Hybrid Coating Technologies (HCT) that integrate softness, flexibility, and durability with the capacity to repel liquids.

Liner Technologies Protect Against Cuts and Abrasions

When made into the yarns needed for gloves, graphene fibers offer unusual capabilities. Because graphene — a carbon-based material — has greater density, it has greater tensile strength than steel and hardness that surpasses that of diamonds. In addition, the graphene fibers resist bacteria, the build-up of static charges, and ultraviolet rays. Kyorene® gloves and sleeves made from graphene fibers offer lightweight, superior protection for workers in a wide range of industries. Given the tensile strength of the graphene fibers, Kyorene® gloves protect hands and arms from cuts, abrasions, and punctures.

Taeki5® fibers surpass the cut, abrasion, and heat resistance capabilities of Aramid and HPPE fibers. The advanced composite fibers protect workers from the mechanical and thermal risks that accompany modern manufacturing and industrial practices. Because Taeki5® fibers withstand repeated laundering, offer comfort and flexibility, and are available in many colors, the fibers are suitable for gloves, sleeves, and high-performance outer apparel. Workers handling sharp steel, glass, and other hazardous materials benefit from the ANSI/ASTM Cut level 4 or 5 protection as well as the protection that Taeki5® products offer against abrasion, puncture, heat, cold, and vibration

Because industrial puncture hazards have increased, new technologies also merge layers of fiber materials with unique perforation plates that prevent sharp objects from penetrating fingers, palms, and the back of hands. Along with providing protection at ANSI ASTM level 4 puncture standards, the combination of materials and plate give greater dexterity, flexibility, and moisture wicking for workers in the construction, manufacturing, and mechanical industries.

New Coatings Protect and Provide Comfort

New coating technologies such as the Hybrid Coating Technology® give an extra layer of protection against cuts and abrasion while remaining soft, durable and flexible. The compounding process used to develop HCT injects soft compound material into pockets within the coating. In addition to protecting against mechanical hazards, HCT also resists penetration by oils. Workers wearing gloves coated with HCT have a stronger grip on dry, wet, or slippery surfaces.

New Technologies Redefine PPE

New methods for producing high-quality fibers, compounds, and composites have made affordable, comfortable, and protective gloves, sleeves, and outerwear available for any worker in any industry. Advances in technology have allowed workers to move on from ill-fitting and stiff materials that may not provide the highest standards of protection to lightweight, flexible, and comfortable protective gear.

Armor Guys Takes a Consumer-First View on Glove Costs

The costs for the raw materials used for making nitrile-coated gloveshave increased by nearly 350 percent during the past three years alone. As a result, the synthetic rubber supply chain has announced price increases for important polymers such as chloroprene rubber, EPDM, Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR), nitriles, fluoroelastomers, and a range of Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE).

 

Various Factors Cause Raw Material Price Increases

 

Growing demand for the materials across many industries, weather conditions, currency fluctuations, labor costs, and increases in oil prices have all contributed to the rising costs. Because Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR) is a material that remains flexible while withstanding extreme cold and heat, the automotive and aeronautics industries use the compound for fuel and oil hoses, seals, and cabin components. Torrential rains in Malaysia, Southern Thailand and other rubber-producing areas have caused floods that damaged plantations. Increases in crude oil and natural gas prices have also contributed to the rise in production costs.

 

The significant increases in the price of butadiene serve as an example of the impact on the glove industry. In late 2016, a wet ton of butadiene cost $950. The price for the same quantity of butadiene reached $2500 in January 2017, and butadiene prices peaked at $2,870 per wet ton later in 2017. Factors causing those increases included a shortage of butadiene caused by outages within several major butadiene facilities in Asia, as well as the recovery of China’s automobile industry.

 

Raw Material Price Increases Impact Glove Costs

 

Every hike in raw butadiene costs impacts synthetics such as nitrile, and manufacturers produce nitrile rubber through the polymerization of butadiene and acrylonitrile. In addition to the increases in rubber and butadiene costs, the costs for chemicals used to manufacture gloves and packaging materials have increased as well. Transportation costs have also increased with indicators showing a 49% increase in the cost to ship containers from Asia to North America.

 

Unsurprisingly, some glove manufacturers have responded to these cost increases by raising the prices of their gloves accordingly, passing their own rising costs directly to the consumer. While manufacturers made a few changes in price over the course of 2016, the number and scope of price increases have continued to grow by approximately three to five percent. As such, the average selling price of many companies’ gloves has largely reflected the rising costs of raw materials, transportation, and packaging.

 

Armor Guys Holds the Line on Cost

 

Armor Guys offers an extensive line of nitrile-coated gloves within the TAEKI5, BASETEK, CHEMIFLEX, DUTY, and EXTRAFLEX product ranges. When viewed across the entire product range, the gloves provide solutions for industries including construction, manufacturing, automotive assembly, oil and gas, chemical processing, metal assembly, and more.

 

While other glove manufacturers have increased consumer costs for their products, Armor Guys has remained firm on prices and will continue to do so. Armor Guys has a long-term sustainability vision that covers the volatility of the commodity and resource costs, allowing Armor Guys to achieve capital protection and cost control. This allows us to keep prices low for our customers, even when the competition doesn’t.

Wear the Right Gloves to Avoid Arc Flash Injuries

Many factors can create an environment conducive to an arc flash in high-voltage equipment. An arc flash occurs when an electric current follows a path through the air instead of through a conductor. Released convective, radiant, and mechanical energy can cause burns, damage hearing, hurl tools through the air, and release dangerous fumes. Arc flashes start and end in seconds, leaving little or no time to respond.

 

National and International Standards Address Arc Flash Safety

 

OSHA(standard 29CFR1910), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 70 and 70E) and the National Electric Code (NEC Article 110.16) ASTM International (ASTM F1506, ASTM F1959), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC 61482-2, IEC 61482-1-1 Method A, and IEC 61482-1-1 Method B) address arc flash safety through standards.

 

Three European Standard Organizations (ESOs) approve and ratify European Standards (ENs) that apply to a wide array of technical operations. A European Standard automatically becomes the national standard for the 34 member countries. The EN407 rating for gloves lists six performance levels for protection against thermal hazards. High numbers on the performance level scale indicate the best test results.

 

ARC Flash Ratings Provide Valuable Information

 

An arc rating (AR) defines the insulating capability of the material against an arc flash and references the Arc Thermal Performance Value (ATVP) and the Energy Breakdown Threshold (EBT) of fibers. The ATPV rates the capability of woven fabric clothing to absorb maximum heat energy in calories per centimeter. The rating describes the ability of PPE to lessen 2nd-degree burn injuries. The EBT measures the capability of fabrics to resist breaking open when exposed to high thermal energy.

 

The NFPAuses a 0-4 scale based on the amount of energy delivered to a point at a specified distance from an arc flash to determine the Hazard Risk Category (HRC). Labels on arc-resistant FR garments show a tracking code, the manufacturer’s name, care instructions, the arc rating, the Hazard Risk Category and a statement that the clothing meets the ASTM 1506 standard.

 

Follow Arc-Flash Rules

 

Recognizing and avoiding arc flash hazards occurs by adhering to the standards. Follow these rules:

 

  • Allow only qualified workers to install, examine, troubleshoot or repair equipment in an arc flash hazard area
  • Wear arc-rated PPE
  • Use insulated tools
  • Install warning signs and barriers
  • Establish and observing arc flash boundaries
  • Shut the circuit down before maintenance and use standard lock-out/tag-out procedures.

 

Insulated tools protect workers repairing equipment near an arc flash hazard. The tools must meet arc insulation standards for specific voltage levels. Clearly visible permanent signs and labels warn qualified workers about the potential of an arc flash before they begin troubleshooting or maintaining the system.

 

Barriers separate adjacent areas from exposed live circuits, slow the progress of an arc through equipment, and prevent arcs from moving beyond the area. Flash protection boundaries establish the distance from the potential arc flash, the qualifications of workers within each boundary and PPE choices. OSHA provides equipment voltage information and charts that assist with setting the approach boundaries.

 

Shutting down equipment and verifying that all parts have powered down eliminates the possibility of arc flash. Along with shutting down the equipment, use grounding devices to eliminate the risk of induced or stored voltages. Standard lock-out/tag-out procedures warn other workers about energizing equipment while under maintenance.

 

Armor Guys Offers Arc-Rated Gloves

 

In the past, Flame Resistant (FR) jackets, pants, shirts, coveralls, jackets, boots, insulating gloves and other PPE stood as the gold standard for arc flash protection. However, because arc flash accidents can cause a broad range of injuries, the NFPA changed the specifications for arc-rated PPE. Although all arc-rated PPE is flame resistant, not all flame-resistant PPE is arc rated.

 

Arc-Rated (AR) flame resistant PPE resists ignition and protects against extreme heat. Protective gear for arc flash also includes eye and face protection and respiratory protection when working in potential arc flash areas.

 

Thick rubber insulated gloves continue to protect workers from arc flash hazards. Yet, many workers prefer gloves that provide dexterity and flexibility as well as insulating protection. Specific aramid-coated gloves provide the protection and dexterity needed for close work on systems that present an arc flash hazard.

 

For example, Armor Guys offers its arc-flash tested BASETEK02-051® and 02-052  gloves that have an ATPV level 4 rating with an ATPV that equals 51 Cal/cm2. The lightweight, flame-resistant gloves combine high tensile strength with excellent cut and abrasion resistance.