Keep chemicals out, say protective respiratory equipment

Keep chemicals out, say protective respiratory equipment

11:27 AM, 19th August 2017
Alex Birrell, CEO, CleanSpace Technology
Alex Birrell, CEO, CleanSpace Technology.

In an interview, Alex Birrell, CEO, CleanSpace Technology with Chemical Today Magazine discusses the technology development and stringent protocols for the protective respiratory equipment market.

By Shivani Mody 

Global trends in the respiratory equipment market.

The chemical industry leads the way in workplace safety and, in particular, in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) programs. Due to the use of a wide range of chemicals and the potentially harsh nature of those chemicals, airborne contaminants are high on the list of workplace hazards in the chemical industry.

For that reason, today, many chemical manufacturers are experts in respiratory protection and their staff are well trained and familiar with respiratory equipment before they start on the job. 

The chemical industry’s stringent protocols and well-managed safety programs have driven the growth of PPE in this sector. This has accelerated the use of innovation in protective clothing and visor coatings. Despite the development and adoption of innovation in materials, there has been little or no innovation in respiratory equipment.

Technology development for respirators.

Improvements in exhalation valves and filter media have been the primary innovation in respiratory equipment, seen in the 1990’s (20 years ago). Since then very little has changed for respirators. The factors for this include the cost and time involved in meeting National Standards regulatory requirements and commercial benefits for manufacturers in a growing consumables mask market.

Factors driving growth of the respiratory equipment market.

In 1984, following the death of more than two thousand people from a methyl isocyanate chemical leak in Bhopal, India, the incident drew world attention to serious hazards in the chemical industry.

Following that tragedy, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed guidelines to aid employers in reducing the number of potential hazards in chemical industries. Employers, associations and a broader safety industry have built on the OSHA guidelines to educate, train and deploy safety equipment. This has driven PPE annual growth significantly in the chemical industry and respiratory equipment has paralleled this growth.  

Products seeing increased demand in the respiratory equipment segment.

The increased knowledge, awareness and investment in safety has seen a shift from negative pressure respirators to powered respirators (PAPRs) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). An understanding of acute and chronic effects on health and exposure limits were the basis for industry standard operating procedures (SOPs) for chemicals. SOPs included the recommended PPE including respirators.

Opportunity for respiratory equipment in Asia Pacific region.

China’s chemical companies continue to dominate the Asia-Pacific chemical market, replacing Germany as the world’s second largest chemical producer, after the US. The Indian chemical industry is the country’s second largest industrial sector, after IT. India and China traditionally have not had strong regulatory frameworks for workplace safety. Clothing, gloves and eye protection have been taken up by companies in these regions. More complex technical equipment has still to catch up. 

Respiratory equipment business for the company.

CleanSpace respirators are currently being used by leading chemical companies in Europe and Asia. The company has seen growth driven by employers’ identifying the benefits in safety and performance of the CleanSpace technology. In particular, CleanSpace’s compact and lightweight design facilitates staff mobility and portability – an important feature considering the heavy requirements for protective clothing in the chemical industry. Consumable covers, minimal parts and the IP rating 66 make cleaning, decontamination and maintenance easy and manageable for large sites.

Innovations by the company.

CleanSpace is a revolution in respiratory protection. The design and AirSensit technology platform, that has created the world’s smallest powered respirator, has led to a paradigm shift in how companies and employees think about PAPRs. Now a respirator offers high protection, comfort and easy donning/doffing. The company, with its heritage in the medical device industry, is driven by continuous improvements for performance, wearer comfort and usability. Our product development is shaped by customer feedback and requirements for compatibility with existing PPE.

Challenges faced in the respiratory solutions market.

OSHA requires wearers to be clean shaven when using tight-fitting respirators. With fashion and cultural trends for facial hair, this has presented an issue for employers. The effectiveness of negative pressure disposable masks and reusable masks are significantly reduced with facial hair. The increased use of quantitative fit testing such as porta-count testing has also increased the awareness of the proper fit for protection.  

© Chemical Today Magazine


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