The Evolution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the invention of one of the most recognizable and important pieces of personal protective equipment.  The invention of the hard hat is credited to Edward W. Bullard who developed it in 1919 based on “doughboy” helmets worn by troops during World War I.

Worker safety equipment has come a long way in the past century. In the 1930s, the standard in construction was to expect one death per every million dollars spent on a project.  These statistics have improved thanks to regulation and the efforts of those concerned for their workers’ safety. During the 1930s, the chief project engineer for the Golden Gate bridge required safety nets, safety lines and hard hats during the construction, precautions which saved at least 19 workers’ lives.

Following that same spirit of worker protection, French Gerleman is committed to offering a wide variety of personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet your company’s specifications.

Protective Clothing

Before the mid-twentieth century, protective clothing tended to be heavy and unwieldy. Thanks to technological advancements starting with Kevlar in the 1960s, it became possible for clothing to be protective and relatively lightweight, and thus be adopted into the workplace more and more. Now clothing such as flame resistant, chem resistant, or cut resistant sleeves are available that are thin and comfortable. Depending on the project, you may opt for jackets and coveralls that offer the same protection.

Hand & Head Protection

Gloves and hard hats are some of the most versatile and necessary gear within the industry. While hard hats are similar across their uses, various types of gloves can protect your hands from electrical current, heat, cold, vibration, cuts, punctures, chemicals and arc flashes.

Ergonomic Products

While PPE protects against immediate threats, many products are also designed to protect workers from potential long-term or repetitive task damage. Ergonomics in the workplace is a relatively recent development, as it was first researched during the world wars for military purposes. Ergonomic gear like back support, elbow and knee pads and wrist supports can all work preventatively.

Eye & Face Protection

Your eyes and face are two of the most sensitive areas that can be exposed during work. While the basics have stayed consistent, the options have expanded. Safety gear such as glasses, goggles and face shields are essential for certain environments.

Fall Protection

Fall protection saves lives. As mentioned, the first large project to use fall protection was the Golden Gate bridge, simply using safety nets and safety lines. Since then a lot has been learned about how we can improve by taking into consideration the materials, environment and even the leading edge. Whether it’s a fall protection kit, harnesses, lifelines or anchors, make sure you have the correct equipment for your situation to ensure your workers’ safety.

Hearing & Respiratory Protection

It’s important to make sure that hearing and respiratory protection are considered, if applicable in your facility or job site. Earmuffs and ear plugs are simple solutions for hearing protection, and respirators and dust masks come in a wide range of option for respiratory protection.

Gas Detection

The risk of hazardous substances in workplaces is growing.  Portable gas detection and measurement devices alert users about potential risks, enabling them to take appropriate measures to prevent injuries to people and damage to the facility or environment.  These instruments must be able to reliably detect a wide range of hazardous substances under a variety of conditions.

Environmental Factors

When selecting the correct safety equipment, it’s essential to consider the task at hand as well as the environment in which it will be performed. The following safety products can account for a variety of environment factors, from slipping to traffic control and electrical hazards:

Utilizing proper personal protective equipment and safety procedures in the workplace can save lives. OSHA estimates that between its creation in 1970 and 2017, worker deaths per day dropped more than 63%. That dramatic decrease can be attributed to advanced safety products available today.

The French Gerleman team can help you identify appropriate safety products to comply with your workplace safety standards.  We’re just a phone call away to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us today or connect with your French Gerleman Account Manager for assistance.

OSHA personal safety PPE