The health and safety of your workforce is of the utmost importance to completing a successful project and to the overall success of your company. In a world where jobsite safety once placed second to getting the job done, our
changing construction landscape has put an industrywide emphasis on protection from jobsite hazards and workplace injuries and illnesses.
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, personal protective equipment (PPE) “should be safely designed and constructed, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. It should fit comfortably, encouraging worker use. PPE that does not fit properly can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed.” While PPE regulations are a priority by law, these same guidelines set forth by OSHA can have a similar impact on general worker productivity on a project.
The need for workwear products that improve performance continues to drive innovation in construction apparel. Concerns such as durability, reliability, comfort, performance and price will always shape the selection for buyers. As the industry continues to improve, it’s important to look at new workwear considerations that have recently made their way to market. The following pages share a glimpse into the construction apparel marketplace and some of the industry’s newest innovations in workwear that could have a significant impact on the productivity levels on your next project.
When the job must get done, but the weather isn’t ideal, consider a heated jacket. Bosch’s PSJ120 12V MAX is a rain- and wind-resistant work jacket powered by a battery holster and a Bosch 12V MAX battery. Users can not only power the jacket, but also power most USB-port-compatible personal electronics, such as cell phones, at the same time. “Users are looking for power to serve personal electronic devices. By incorporating power into clothing, manufacturers are helping users meet their need for power, as well as providing warm, functional clothing on the jobsite,” said Charlie Chiappetta, product manager. The jacket features large, zippered hand-warmer pockets on each side, a large inside mesh pocket for gloves and three push-button heat settings (high, medium and low), which start warming in seconds.
In August, Cat Footwear will launch four new work boots in its GroundFlex4 Series (pictured here: Struts). The “4” describes key features in every boot that help get the job done: flexible, comfortable, durable and waterproof. “We create boots for the next generation of workers. We even started an Industrial Task Force, where a small team of experts meet to discuss upcoming trends, do focus groups with earthmovers and complete wear testing and extensive research to make sure the boots we are providing are meeting the needs of our workers,” said Courtney Frank, marketing manager. Cat is constantly looking for new abrasion resistant materials, leathers and EVA systems for comfort, flexible technology, to prevent fatigue and to keep workers safe on the job. “Our customer’s No. 1 pain point is comfort. At the end of the day, our earthmovers want to be comfortable. We have taken that seriously, developing new comfort technologies such as the Ease comfort system, to ensure our workers have fresh feet at the day’s end.”
New this spring, KEEN Utility introduced the men’s Davenport. Completely metal-free, the Davenport industrial hiker features nylon eyelets and hardware together with roomy, asymmetrical composite safety toes that satisfy ASTM compression, impact and an outsole that passes EH safety standards. The wider toe-box delivers comfort, allowing for increased movement and flexion in the toes, while reducing common safety footwear complaints, such as pinched feet or too-tight boots. “We understand that work isn’t the only thing that defines our customers—they are little league coaches, community volunteers, rock climbers, fishermen/women and much more. Our outdoor and athletic-inspired designs resonate with customers looking for safety footwear that can transition from work to the weekend. In the market today, we’re seeing a trend in the desire for lighter, more athletic safety footwear at more accessible price points,” said Chris Heffernan, general manager.
MSA - The Safety Company
According to 100-year-old construction industry veteran MSA, technology has affected the PPE market through product design by increasing the overall comfort of the wearer. In self-retracting devices, products that are smaller, lighter and more compact prove to be increasingly significant. “Individual buyers see value in this trend, as increased comfort supports a workers willingness to wear this type of PPE and maintain compliance,” said Anne Osbourn, industrial and utilities marketing manager. MSA’s Workman Mini Personal Fall Limiter supports the reality of many construction applications, which require a worker to tie off above and below the D-ring throughout the job. Extensive testing conducted on the product’s internal pawl-lock design provides flexibility, allowing for lower level tie-off in many applications on a jobsite where the work environment is constantly changing.
This spring, Milwaukee Tool will expand its WORKSKIN Performance Base Layer program to include a Light Weight performance shirt designed to help users stay cool and comfortable in hot summer conditions. Utilizing CoolCore Fabric Technology, the Light Weight shirts regulate sweat evaporation to provide a cooling effect in addition to moving moisture away from the body. Extended, fast-dry sweat zones under the arms and across the back accelerate wicking in key areas and help prevent the shirt from becoming saturated and uncomfortable. All WORKSKIN Performance Base Layer products are designed specifically for the work patterns of tradesmen, and feature seamless shoulders, a drop-tail, extended back and materials that increase product life by providing enhanced resistance to pilling and abrasion. New material technologies have allowed manufacturers to introduce innovation that has been previously reserved for athletes, but with a focus on addressing challenges on the jobsite, construction apparel can survive better and deliver greater comfort. “Every year, we spend hundreds of hours on the jobsite working with our users to understand their needs and frustrations. This results in real innovation,” said Patrick Lueck, product manager.
Red Wing Shoes
Available this fall, the new King Toe ADC work boot is made with Nano composite safety toe technology. Nano toe technology is an extremely thin, lightweight, nonmetallic composite material. These toe caps are asymmetrical to match the unique shape of the left and right foot, providing 44-percent more toe room than standard safety toe caps. Red Wing provides head-to-toe PPE offerings to give industrial workers total body protection from both ordinary and extraordinary hazards. “We’re always exploring new ways to collaborate with skilled laborers on this critical issue. Ultimately, our work footwear is about ensuring that people go home safe at the end of the day,” said Shawn Sweeney, vice president of North American sales and operations.