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Everyday, but not ordinary

My Take | May 9, 2014 | By:

Protective textile products are hard workers in industrial environments.

Around the world, countless people start their work day following a critical routine by donning protective apparel: a hard hat, fire-retardant coverall, safety glasses, cut-resistant sleeves or gloves, high-visibility vests or jackets, clean-room garments, breathing masks. It may seem ordinary just because it’s common, but fire and high heat, punctures and cuts, fumes, particulates and other hazards are anything but ordinary, and quite extraordinary textile products are helping to assure that workers are properly protected and equipped.

For a long time the advanced textiles industry has responded to the need to protect workers in factories, on road construction crews, in the oil fields and in so many other environments where a small slip in safety protocol could mean a serious injury—or even death.

In our featured article, “Safety on the line” we discuss just some of the applications and industries served by textile safety products. When we started looking into this, we were a little overwhelmed by the numbers and volume. Consumers take a lot of these safety products for granted, but the institutions and suppliers who do the research and are constantly seeking improvements certainly do not. This is serious business, and they know it.

Furthermore, it isn’t enough to make a product that’s effective and durable, it has to be comfortable enough that a worker is willing to put it on and keep it on. Improvements in weight, breathability and the textile’s “hand” are important considerations, too.

Performance and comfort start at the fiber level, but that’s just the beginning. The combination of fibers, the processes used to make the textiles, the care with which every detail must be assessed —there’s a much larger story here. If you can add to the conversation we’ve started, or if you have new fibers, fabrics and applications in this market that you’d like to share with our readers, please do. Use our comment space, or feel free to email me at

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