In this modern industrial era occupied by machines and equipment, accidents and hazards at the workplace is common. Falling objects, sharp edges, flying sparks, noise, chemicals, and the myriad of many other hazardous situations are recurrent at facilities. To protect the workers from the hazard, a work management approach that allows utilization of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is contemplated as significant and an alternative means for protecting the workers. In the recent era, automation, industrial development, and digitalization has surged the safety of the workers and has condensed the need for protection at many workplaces. However, there is still a considerable number of jobs that need protection. Owing to such risks in the application industries, in 2018 3M, a global leader in worker safety producing PPE equipment, launched DBI-SALA Smart Lock to improve the safety of the workers. These smart locks series of self-retracting lifelines have emerged as a trend in the PPE market. It increases the productivity and accommodates work motions in vertical and horizontal applications. Such locks have reduced the number of accidents at site. The magnetic retraction systems retracts at an evenly controlled pace and reduces accidental lock-ups. Introduction of smart lock ups, influenced the companies to launch smart respiratory protective equipment, smart hearing protection, and smart hand protection. Due to increasing concerns related to workers safety and site accidents, the global personal protective equipment market size was evaluated to be $46.5 billion in 2018. The demand for PPE in the market is progressing at a CAGR of 6.95% during the forecast period 2019-2025.

Reportedly, more than 2.3 million men and women succumb every year due to work-related accidents and diseases which is almost 6000 deaths every day globally. Worldwide, there are around 160 and 340 million fatalities of work-related illness and occupational accidents annually, respectively. Furthermore, globally in 2016, 48,060 injuries took place wherein the workers were injured badly and out of which 697 deaths occurred due to falls to a lower level. The negligence of using personal protective equipment at the workplace leads to the increasing rate of occupational accidents at the workplace. Furthermore, growing awareness regarding employee health and safety and at the same time increasing casualties at the workplace is attributable to the personal protective equipment market expecting a spur in the coming years.

Stringent Regulation Imposed by the Government

The stringent regulations imposed by the government has positively impacted the growth of the PPE market, simultaneously growing the demand for the products in the countries. Imposed strict regulations and policies in factories are to avoid occupational accidents, deaths, and illness. Some of the government regulations are as follows:

·     U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 1970 

OSHA’s major role is to promote the health and safety of the working men and women enforcing and setting standards. Providing outreach and education, training, and establishing partnerships with companies situated in America. OSHA continuously work towards encouraging regular workplace safety and health. It mostly provides services to the private sector workers and employers along with some of the public sector workers and employers in 50 states and territories, and their jurisdictions under federal authority. The agency has been established with enforced law against those who put their lives of the workers at risk and common sense standards. Because of the stringent regulation by the US government, personal protective equipment market is gaining huge traction in North America. 

·    National Safety Council

National Safety Council (NSC) is a nonprofit, public service 501(c) (3) organization that promotes safety and health in the United States of America. NSC works along with the U.S. OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labour to strengthen workplace safety. The objective of this group is to focus on preventable injuries and deaths that can happen at the construction sites or manufacturing units. They provide classroom programs and online training to the employers and the employees to educate them about the casualties that can happen due to negligence. Several industries are continuing to follow NSC norms to give their works training programs on a regular basis, which is directly impacting the growth of the PPE market.

·     Health and Safety Executive Act 1974

The Health and Safety Executive is a UK government agency. They are responsible for the regulation, enforcement, and encouragement of workplace welfare, health, and safety. This agency is sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions. As a part of it, HSE investigates all types of accidents that occur at a workplace from industrial accidents to major accidents such as explosion and fire.  

Smart PPE: An Emerging Tech Trend in the Market

Personal protective equipment is mandatory at the workplace where there are chances of deaths and injuries. Wearable technologies have gained momentum over the past few years. Smart technologies such as fitness trackers, phones, and watches have become an integrated part of PPE market. The body parts that are vulnerable are suitably equipped with the actuators and sensors that it is interconnected so that communication, interaction, and reaction with the wearer becomes safe, comfortable, and protective.

·   Smart Eyewear: The intelligent eyewear protection delivers enhanced communication, connection to the workers, and increased access to data. Such an eye protection device is important in the high-hazard industries. Additionally, the corner of the lens has displays that provide information giving the users access to sensor data that can be visualized on the inner surface while being worn. These displays provide the information and the documents by alerting the wearer.

·    Smart Helmet: Smart Helmet or e-hat, is the hardhat that is built-in smart technology that allows the worker to convey audio, video, and data back to the central workstation. This communication can be done to experts located in any part of the world. Smart helmets are embedded with meta sensors that evaluate the situations by significantly enhancing and providing information for protective functions. These chips use sensors that detect temperature, moisture, brightness, and GPS. Such innovation has influenced the growth of the personal protective equipment market.

·    Smart Gloves: Safety gloves are integrated with near-field communication (NFC) that enables the users to access the information through their tablet or phone. In addition to this, the gloves can also be customized, infrastructure can be regulated, and have access to machines. The chips are programmed in such a way that provide access to the data sheets when the gloves are scanned by the users to check the chemicals that are safe to use. These chips also act as swipe card on the products.

·    Coldwear: There are jackets that are developed with sensors to monitor the health of the workers while they are working in extremely cold conditions. The jacket takes the reading of humidity, body temperature, and perspiration inside and outside the suit and can also track the location of the workers. This attire sends the information back to the central point, specially designed for arctic oil fields. This jacket goes a long way to protect the workers in the utmost harsh weather. Owing to the features of the jackets the demand for the PPE in the marketplace has drastically increased.  

North America Region Likely to Remain on Top

In 2018, North America dominated the global personal protective equipment market with a regional share of 33% due to the increased adoption of products from end-use industries. The construction industry is growing and so is the demand for PPE. The region has started adopting smart PPE for the protection of the labors and widely using the virtual arms in the sector. In addition to this, in the U.S. construction industry recorded disproportionately high rate of accidents, with 971 deaths in 2017. Rising deaths and injuries are creating growth opportunities for the company’s manufacturing PPE. The U.S. holds the major revenue share due to high product penetration and adoption of personal safety equipment which is attributed to hefty penalties for non-compliance with the standards coupled with the stringent regulatory scenario. Increasing surge about the awareness related to work safety in the growing industrialization, pharmaceuticals, chemical, automotive, and food processing industries are the major factors that are driving the demand for the personal protective equipment.

Manufacturing Application Growing Intensively

Manufacturing is gaining the maximum traction in the global PPE market, which is growing at a CAGR of 6.55% during the forecast period. In developing economies such as APAC and South and Central America, the manufacturing activities are primarily increasing which is boosting the demand for protection products for employees, thereby driving the personal protective equipment market growth. The manufacturing industry requires the heavy deployment of personal protective gear as it involves huge auxiliary and primary processes for metal manufacturing and welding. Hence, the workers are exposed to situations where they have to switch from hard hats to face shields and welding helmets to safety goggles.

The Major Players in the Market

Some of the key players dominating the PPE market are National Safety Apparel, MSA SAFETY, 3M Company, Honeywell International, Rock Fall Ltd., Sioen Industries NV, Alpha Pro Tech, Ltd., Ansell Limited, and Radians, Inc. Many companies are introducing new products in order to increase their market presence or entering into strategic mergers and acquisition, joint ventures, and partnerships.

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