A recent report from Textiles Intelligence in the United Kingdom indicates that smart textiles and nanotechnology will enhance the benefits of personal protective equipment (PPE) used to protect workers from occupational exposures, hazardous materials, and pathogens that trigger infectious diseases.
The report, Technical Textile Markets: Personal Protective Clothing: Ensuring Worker Safety (Issue 81, second quarter 2010) notes that "Personal protective clothing offers a practical solution to eliminating, or at least minimizing, the risk of accidents, injuries or infection in the workplace. More specifically, it provides an effective safeguard against hazards such as extreme temperatures, fire, potentially dangerous objects and harmful substances ... Growing concerns about worker safety on the one hand and increasing instances of terror attacks and epidemics on the other have raised awareness about the need for personal protection. This awareness, coupled with rising costs associated with workplace injuries, has resulted in a growing emphasis on compliance with health and safety regulations and performance standards for protective apparel and accessories. Technological advances in the personal protective equipment (PPE) industry have led to the development of products which not only meet these stringent performance standards but also offer advances in comfort and style. Such advances have helped to increase the proportion of end users who comply with health and safety regulations."
The Textiles Intelligence report adds that increasing worldwide demand for "high-performance products that are user-friendly will help to drive growth in the market, and those companies which are able to satisfy the need for increasingly sophisticated PPE should thrive as a result. PPE is a necessity rather than an option in many services and industries, notably those in which worker safety is at risk. The market should therefore enjoy a viable future as legislation becomes more stringent in developed countries, and as industrialization progresses and legislation is introduced in developing countries."