“The global personal protective equipment (PPE) market was valued at $38.38 billion in 2015. Stringent occupational health and safety regulations are expected to drive global personal protective equipment market growth over the forecast period. Mandated policies by agencies such as OSHA, NIOSH and NFPA have been enforcing employers to maintain worker’s safety in industries,” according to a report from Grand View Research that forecasts market growth through 2024.

Health care is one segment of the PPE market that is growing. Gloves, scrubs, gowns and other protective textiles continue to be important safety products. A growing market segment deals with personal comfort devices for health care workers.

Ralph Basile with Healthmark Industries says recent outbreaks have generated more demand for safety and comfort devices.

“With the Ebola crisis and other events raising concern about the health and safety of health care givers, there has been greater demand for impervious gowns and better compliance with PPE gowning standards. More impervious gowning, however, means less comfort. This has increased the need for cooling products and other apparel to keep staff comfortable and created a significant amount of growth for Cool Aids Vest and the product line,” Basile explains.

He expects the market to continue to grow based on feedback from health care providers.

“There has always been a ‘concern or an awareness’ about issues of comfort and heat retention when wearing protective attire whether in the operating room or the decontamination area of sterile processing. There has been a tremendous effort in  human factors engineering and staff comfort and work environment certainly falls into this area. This will bring more focus in the area of worker comfort and bring about more innovation,” he adds.

“Continued concern for the health, safety and comfort of health care providers will drive demand for attire solutions. One of the factors that led to the development of the single-use vest, designed for one person, one day, is the challenge of laundering garments. For many facilities, the single-use vest offers a better option than having to manage the laundering and return of garments,” Basile continues.

Mike More at Glacier Tek also reports market growth.

“Glacier Tek is experiencing rapid growth in health care with our product line, which is focused on safety and comfort. Heat stress has been an issue in other industries and is now gaining more attention in health care by OR staff who are looking to combat the heat created by overhead lights, gowns, and lead protection which is also intensified by the critical nature of their work,” More explains. “Health care sales for Glacier Tek has increased 250 percent in the past 12 months, due to the awareness of our product which enables OR staff to stay fresh and alert while remaining untethered and able to move freely.”