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Expert Interview Series: Jill Clements of DuPont on Purchasing High-Strength Textiles

by Joe Geng on July 27, 2016

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jill clements dupont kevlar

Jill Clements is a Senior Applications Research Engineer for DuPont with over 18 years of experience in new product development and the development of new applications. She is extremely knowledgeable about high-strength textiles, and believes that taking the time to choose the right safety apparel for your workplace is of the utmost importance.

We recently asked her about shopping for high-performance safety apparel, and to share with us some of the trends she’s observed in the field. Here’s what she had to say:

1. Can you tell us a little about your background in high-strength textiles? What are some examples of products you’ve helped create?

I have been in the high-strength textiles industry for over 18 years, with 15 years of focus on applications involving Kevlar®. My areas of focus have included high-strength apparel (such as gloves and sleeves) but also breathable, waterproof apparel. Additionally, I have also helped develop solutions using high-strength textiles for the composites and high-speed rail industries.

2. How has the demand for high-performance apparel evolved since you started your career?

The demand for high-performance apparel is increasingly focused on lighter-weight, higher-strength materials. Users want their apparel to be more breathable and feel more comfortable while still protecting them at the highest level possible. Specific to gloves, many people want the protection they seek without feeling like they are even wearing a glove.

3. Which industries are most interested in the types of products you’ve designed?

I have been involved in many industries, so that question is hard to answer. As my focus has been on a variety of high-strength and high-performance textiles, they have stretched across multiple industries from composites to high-speed rail to outdoor apparel and protective apparel.

Construction worker working hard

4. Why isn’t all safety apparel created equal? From where you sit, what are the must-haves for an item to be considered high-performance?

All safety apparel isn’t created equal because not all threats are equal. Safety apparel is designed to protect against the threats that the user will be exposed to. These vary by task and job. To be considered high-performance, I think an item must meet a certain industry standard as related to a task. If an item does not meet a minimum industry standard in some way, I consider it to be “general purpose.”

5. What are the risks for companies who don’t invest in the right high-performance safety apparel?

There are multiple risks — including financial [ones], loss of productivity, and loss of employees. Not only are companies fined when the appropriate PPE has not been supplied, but it also usually involves having to train temporary or new employees to cover for the one who has been injured. It also does not portray the company as a good place to work if they continue to have injuries without adapting and making changes.

6. Which considerations should businesses make when shopping for high-performance gear to use in manufacturing?

First, what is the threat that will be encountered when performing the job? This is the most important place to start when considering PPE. Also, are there standards that can be applied to help determine what level of protection is needed in your workplace? Have there been injuries under their current PPE program that would indicate their level of protection is not high enough? Fit and comfort are items that should be considered after the appropriate protection has been chosen based on the threats.

Workers rappelling down a rope

I’m excited to see protective apparel moving to lighter-weight, more protective gloves through the use of engineered yarns. The technology and engineering behind these specialty yarns is allowing the industry to move to a place that it’s never been by manufacturing apparel that will increase both worker safety and comfort.

8. Based on how industries use this type of apparel, what do you think is in store for the future?

Most people wear protective clothing because they have to — not because it feels good. I think the industry of high-strength apparel is moving in a direction that will not only protect the worker, but also make them feel good and look good while doing it.

Thanks so much for your fantastic insight, Jill! We always learn so much whenever we get the chance to sit down and chat with you.

Wondering how much you’d stand to gain by switching to a higher quality pair of work gloves or sleeves in your workplace? Why not give our handy ROI calculator a try? As Jill mentioned, thanks to recent technological advancements in the glove market, nowadays, there are a number of different PPE options available that offer a greater number of benefits to the worker. For this reason, opting for PPE that’s better suited to your application or industry could significantly decrease the number of injuries in your workplace AND save you a ton of money on worker compensation packages in the long run. Basically, it’s a win-win situation!

Click the button below to discover your current Return on Investment on your PPE.


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Reader Comments'

Informative and comprehensive article!!
So true .PPE is now just not about the protection but industry is moving forward to make them comfortable for all week long wear and cool as well as.

Reply FR Clothing - August 5, 2016

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