Best in Show: Stronger! Safer! Wireless!

Of all the products at the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) show this week, there were a few that captured the attention of WorkSafely.com's roving reporter Rick Faulkner as he weaved his way through the trade show floor.

The world's strongest fiber

Dyneema, the world's strongest fiber, has been produced by DSM Dyneema B.V, in The Netherlands since 1990 and the USA since 2001. This little gem of a product is already used to create strong ropes, nets, helmets and even bullet-resistant vests. Dyneema is now being used to make cut-resistant gloves by North Safety. The promotional literature claims greater finger sensitivity along with comfort and light weight, so employees will wear the gloves more often and for longer periods. Other benefits include that it is extremely resistant to abrasion, moisture, UV rays and chemicals. Dyneema gloves even float on water.

Any business with a triple-digit budget in bandages should get a few pair of gloves and try them out. If Dyneema gloves are even half as good as the literature says, they are worth the price. Compared with other work gloves, employees wearing Dyneema supposedly have fewer cuts and scrapes, less time in the nurse's office, and more time on the job.

Making the material handling world a safer place

Metal banding can be tricky to work with. Fortunately, Caristrap of Laval, Quebec, Canada has polyester woven and non-woven cord strapping as a replacement. The three main widths of  .75", 1.25" and 1.5" will handle most of the daily applications while other widths are available for specialized situations.

Every industrial and shipping supply distributor has the typical white ½" plastic banding but that only goes so far. Heavier loads normally rely on metal banding for superior strength, but it comes with some drawbacks including no flexibility when the load shifts, and the potential for cut hands and legs if the bands break and fly about. Caristrap's video of full lifts of lumber being intentionally pushed off the back of a truck without the load shifting are quite impressive.

Superior shock absorption with constant tension makes for a much safer load. Any flatbed truck driver will tell you that nylon or polyester straps are better than chains as they grip the load better, won't cut your hands or legs, have a soft surface which will not harm the load, and allow the load to flex with the truck when driving.

Even when cutting the polyester strapping off, the recoil from the pent-up tension barely makes the buckle move. Metal banding usually jumps all over the place. Your shipping department will be wearing fewer bandages and you will have fewer shipping misadventures.

And truckers can use all the safety breaks they can get, seeing as the transportation sector is one of America's most dangerous.

Wireless is not just for home anymore

Wireless is a term we see more often as technology is allowing more freedoms we could not have even dreamed of just a few years ago. Phoenix Contact and many other companies have had wireless products on the market for around five years now, but are seeing the demand for these products grow exponentially more recently.

People are beginning to see the immediate and long-term benefits to the wireless world in relation to their mechanical components. Retrofitting hardware for communication is costly and labor-intensive process with all the wiring, modifications to control boxes, downtime, and planning. Products such as one and two way transmitters, analog or digital modules, and all the usual accessories make for rather simple upgrades, allowing direct access to any piece of hardware you desire, all for much less than you might imagine.

There are many angles to consider with this type of product, but safety always comes first. Immediate knowledge and controllability of any component allows for faster decision-making in critical situations, where every second counts. It's hard to imagine where this technology will lead us, but anytime the safety and well being of your staff can be improved this easily and economically, you should probably give it some thought!

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