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Expert Interview Series: : Alex Blair of DuPont™ Kevlar® on Risk Assessments

by Joe Geng on August 19, 2016

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Alex Blair Dupont Kevlar

Alex Blair is  Kevlar®’s Business Development Manager and has spent the past 13 years working with some of the best and brightest at Dupont™. Along with a deep knowledge in Automotive Safety, Alex knows a fair bit about assessing risk.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Alex and discuss some of the trends he’s noticed when it comes to safety in the workplace. Alex shared simple yet effective actionable steps that can be taken to improve safety in the workplace.


How are your products used by the automotive and metal fabrication industries today?

Gloves and sleeves that contain Kevlar® are used in these industries to provide protection from cuts and abrasion, as well as thermal hazards.


Would cuts and lacerations be one of the biggest safety risks to workers in these industries?

Cuts and lacerations are definitely a big concern in these areas. The average recordable hand injury can cost a company well over $20,000. But a lot of these injuries that are happening are non-recordable ones because the injured person doesn’t consider it serious enough.


What should these workers be doing to mitigate these safety risks?

The first thing that a worker should do is be aware of their area. If there’s something that doesn’t seem safe, they need to report it. That includes things like equipment missing proper guards, missing or ineffective lockout/tagout procedures or unsafe practices. These things need to be documented. Once those types of risks are assessed, then it’s time to bring in PPE (personal protective equipment). Workers should make sure they are using the correct glove and sleeve for the application/job task.

The onus isn’t on the workers, it’s on the employer but if their employer isn’t taking the proper steps to keep people safe, then workers need to involve themselves.


What are the most common mistakes you’ve observed in these industries when it comes to managing safety?

The most common mistake I see is safety managers who allow their purchasing department to make decisions on glove and sleeves based on price rather than performance and level of protection.

Construction workers and architect looking at blueprints on construction site.

What do workers need to know about maintaining the integrity of their safety equipment?

Gloves and sleeves containing Kevlar® offer cut resistance but are not cut-proof. Using the published laundry instructions, they can be washed multiple times. It is recommended that work gloves and sleeves be washed/cleaned by a professional laundry service.

How often should safety gear be inspected and/or replaced?

Gear should be inspected before, during, and at the end of each usage cycle. Those doing the inspection should pay close attention to critical wear areas – like the thumb crotch area. Gear should be replaced if they have holes or areas that are wearing thinner than others.

What should companies be doing to better educate their employees on safety risks?

Employees should be educated on cut standards, as well as the new technologies that are available for protection. Many end users still use cotton and leather for hand protection even though they provide very little protection [in certain industries]. Employees should be educated that certain job tasks might require a different glove than what has “always been worn.”

What innovations in safety equipment are you most excited about right now?

DuPont™ is working closely with key channel partners on products that offer higher levels of cut without sacrificing dexterity and productivity.

Thanks so much for your valuable insight, Alex! We always enjoy having the opportunity to chat with our knowledgeable friends at DuPont™ Kevlar®, and discuss the issues facing today’s generation of workers. Thank you as well for your thoughtful suggestions on what our readers can do to make their workplaces safer.

Wondering how your workplace compares to others in your industry? Curious about what else you can do to increase worker safety? Take our short safety quiz.

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