Personal protective equipment (PPE) like safety helmets, face masks, gloves, high visibility clothing and respiratory products represent some of the key investments towards employee safety. Workplace hazards are an inherent part of nearly every industrial unit, with workers under threat of experiencing injuries, illnesses, or life-altering conditions in some form. According to estimates from the International Labor Organization (ILO), almost 2.3 million workers suffer from accidents or diseases each year, in their workplace.
To mitigate the risks of these instances, many employers are placing renewed emphasis on mandatory measures to safeguard their workers, including the use of PPE. The term refers to a variety of protective gear, designed to create a protective barrier between workers and their environment, shielding them from any fatalities, injuries, or illnesses in hazardous workplaces. Protective clothing is utilised widely across the global industrial spectrum, mainly due to the efficiency and cost-effectiveness in controlling hazards.
According to research from Global Market Insights, Inc. (GMI), the personal protective equipment (PPE) market size is poised to cross $120 billion by 2027.
Find the report here: https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/personal-protective-equipment-PPE-market
Over the past year, safety has become a critical issue for frontline workers engaged directly in battling the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Healthcare staff like nurses, doctors, and other essential professionals are at high risk of infection, making their safety a cornerstone for ensuring the consistent functioning of healthcare systems worldwide. In this scenario, PPE has emerged as a primary line of defense against the COVID-19 disease, playing a major role in protecting frontline staff from exposure to the virus.
Increasing Frontline Occupational Hazards During COVID-19 Drive Demand for Effective Face and Hand Protection Gear
One of the primary recommendations made by health organisations like the CDC to curb transmission levels of COVID-19 is to minimise exposure to outdoor environments, including workplaces. Estimates indicate that nearly 34.5% of all workers in the U.S. alone are essential and frontline workers, responsible for work that is crucial for fulfilling basic population needs. Given the importance of their functions, these workplaces are unable to implement isolation measures everywhere, making them extremely high-risk environments.
Based on UK’s Office for National Statistics report, occupations that witnessed the highest death rates due to COVID-19 included social and healthcare workers, taxi/bus/coach drivers, cleaners, security guards, construction workers, and retail assistants, among others. The healthcare industry, in particular, has witnessed a tremendous rise in occupational risk, since staff duties involve frequent exposure to people infected with the coronavirus, making PPE a necessary component of workplace safety measures.
Proper usage of high-quality safety gear, particularly hand and face protection gear, plays a key role in mitigating exposure to infectious diseases including COVID-19. Organisations worldwide are ramping up their efforts to make quality-assured PPE available for frontline workers in various functions. UNICEF, for instance, has shipped over 653.4 million PPE products to 140 nations across the globe since the onset of the pandemic, as a part of its COVID-19 response.
Although PPE for infection control is associated most with the medical masks, the scope of this safety gear goes much further beyond face protection. Healthcare PPE encompasses goggles, gowns, face shields, and many other items that are critical for the safety of essential and frontline staff. According to GMI projections, personal protective equipment (PPE) industry share from the hand protection segment is set to record a CAGR of nearly 8.5% through 2027, as a result of the heightened risk of pathogen transmission from handling of important medical equipment like MRI and X-ray.
Key players in the industry are taking heed of this development and making targeted efforts to develop high-quality hand safety gear designed to safeguard frontline healthcare workers against surface transmission of the virus. To illustrate, two market-leading companies [PS1] inked a commercial partnership in July 2021, to expand the domestic manufacturing of nitrile exam gloves. The collaboration was geared towards facilitating the production of over 750 million domestically produced nitrile exam gloves, within the first year alone.
MENA Region Underpins the Importance of PPE
Sectors like construction have long been a major part of the Middle Eastern economy, particularly in countries like the UAE, which place a strong emphasis on infrastructural advancement. Along with this rise, however, comes a surge in the risk of construction-related accidents, ranging from falls to electrocution, to fire-related hazards, among others. Historically, these incidents have been linked mainly to the deficiency of companies in providing adequate measures like site orientation, accident prevention, and PPE.
However, the emergence of several new reforms of existing organisations or the creation of new mandates dedicated to worker safety is helping to gradually improve this situation. The heightening awareness regarding the importance of workplace safety, coupled with significant investment interest in constructive programs is contributing to the improvement of safety in Middle Eastern workspaces to a great extent. Also, increasing stringency and individualised focus of government policies for business environments have triggered an evolution of safety standards in the region, including the development of effective PPE products.
A notable example of this is the UAE’s MoIAT (Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology), which introduced a new national system for PPE in January 2021, in collaboration with private-sector and government partners. This initiative, the first of its kind in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, was undertaken to provide a framework of technical specifications for the production of eye shields, face masks, medical and protective gloves, medical clothing, and other PPE products compliant with international standards.
Major players have also set their sights on combating the issue of product counterfeiting in the MENA region, following the seizure of thousands of fake N95 respirators in South Africa and the UAE. The company added digital authentication to its UAE-manufactured range of PPE in May 2021, using digital code-embedded packaging and mobile app software to validate the legitimacy of the products via a database.
Personal protective equipment has long been associated mainly with common safety gear like face masks or gloves. However, the scope of modern PPE has been expanding steadily beyond these basic functionalities, to include technology-enriched gear such as sensor-embedded clothing to monitor body temperature, or protective gloves with thermoplastic coating to ensure optimum strength and flexibility. Massive events like the COVID-19 pandemic, fluctuating trade and economic conditions, and rapid technological evolution are also creating divergent impacts on the global PPE market outlook. PPE makers, in response, are redoubling efforts to differentiate themselves through innovations in service, product, and sales channels, and usher in a new era of safety for future workplace environments.