With the various benefits it offers, demand for integrated head and face protection has never been so high. Contractors have begun to recognise the value of equipping workers with fully integrated solutions and considering this, there is also the hope that the efficacy and safety of PPE is placed firmly at the top of the agenda for purchasing policy. A white paper from safety company MSA Safety explains more.
From a practical workplace perspective, issuing workers with a single integrated safety helmet and visor solution offers several benefits.
Clearly, having one piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) can minimise the risk of a worker leaving an element behind and, as the visor is built into the helmet, face protection is always available and readily pulled down into place whenever needed.
Cleaning one piece of PPE can also be easier and more convenient than cleaning separate elements. High-quality helmets with integrated visors are also specially designed to be balanced, thus comfortable for the wearer.
Separate visors can also be more vulnerable to scuffs and damage over time, as they are removed and stored. The best integrated designs see the face protection safely retracting upwards into the helmet shell, remaining fully protected when not in use, all while the helmet’s shell remains compact.
However, there is the matter of vision, which is crucial considering that 69% of people in the UK wear corrective glasses. Leading integrated face protection solutions offer visor options which are deep enough to accommodate everyday glasses.
As far as hearing conservation is concerned, high-quality helmets with integrated visors also allow the seamless use of other PPE, like helmet mounted earmuffs.
Integrated solutions are not created equal
Whilst integrated face protection solutions are clearly highly attractive, it is important to understand that not all are created equal. Legacy integrated solutions over the last 15 years tend to be heavy, bulky, and restrictive, with comfort issues often impeding acceptance by users. But over the last several years, extensive user research coupled with new design approaches has seen the emergence of new, lighter-weight, compact and fully adjustable solutions.
To develop its latest V-Gard 950 helmet with integrated visor, MSA Safety surveyed and worked with more than 300 end-users from various industries including construction.
The results helped define a lightweight design which optimised comfort and everyday practicality. For example, the ability for workers to easily pull down or retract away face protection with one hand whilst wearing gloves. Or the ability, thanks to the Fas-Trac III suspension lateral adjustment feature, to slide the helmet forward to wear corrective glasses.
The best possible safety and comfort
It is essential that companies take the time to become fully aware of the functional design differences and qualities offered by different brands and products. Recently, we have seen a greater appreciation for the value of full-face integrated protection in many industries, including the construction sector. This shift, combined with regularly reappraising employee protection and making fully informed decisions, will continue to afford workforces in all sectors the best possible safety and comfort at work.