According to Fortune Insights, the market for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) vending machines is projected to reach $3.68 billion by 20271 – and the challenge of COVID-19 is only one reason. Even prior to the pandemic, OHSA (the Occupational Health and Safety Administration) was reporting the entry of serious new injuries into its “Top 10 Most-Cited Violations Safety Violations List,” such as eye and face accidents easily preventable by the appropriate PPE. 2
Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workspace. Given the average cost of $40,000 per workers’ compensation claim3 (not to mention the negative impact on worker productivity) they have a financial need to ensure safety, too. Thankfully, a new take on an old technology is keeping safety gear close at hand: the vending machine.
How PPE vending machines help reduce injuries and boost compliance
The term “vending machine” probably conjures images of candy or cola before those of work gloves or goggles – but machines that dispense a fit-to-the-job selection of protective gear are popping up on shop floors all across the country.
The obvious way these machines help reduce on-the-job injuries is that they can keep protective gear near to production lines – and accessible safety devices are safety devices that are more likely to get used. However, there’s more than just convenience at play in this new generation of connected vending machines. Integrated with a variety of available software options, they can track who uses required gear, improving not only effectiveness of safety efforts but also helping prove compliance with safety regulations.
Better inventory and cost control are at your fingertips with PPE vending machines
In addition, the connected nature of the new industrial vending machines enables a variety of management advantages. You can track supply levels, and alert staff when it’s time to refill the machines, so that ample gear is always available. You can even control who has access to what PPE, via user permissions, manage reusable gear thanks to check-in/check-out options, and trigger purchasing alerts for consumable supplies.
PPE vending machines and the fight against COVID-19
These automated dispensers of PPE may have been introduced in recent years as an advance in day-to-day industrial safety, but with the advent of COVID-19 they are emerging as a must-have component for any comprehensive industrial hygiene and safety plan.
Are each of your employees daily accessing the requisite face masks and/or face shields? A connected PPE vending machine will let you know. Are employees taking only the COVID-related supplies they need at work, and not helping themselves to supplies for the home front? Have you run out of gloves, masks or eye and face protectors mid-shift, so that you need to resupply them as soon as possible? You’ll be able to get your answers to these questions and many more in real time, an essential element to stemming the spread of a pandemic that can quickly impact your employees, their productivity and your profits.
Machines can’t do it all (industrial hygiene is a hand-to-hand battle)
There’s one caveat to the promise of these tech-driven advances: all the “smart” PPE vending machines in the world won’t guarantee that your employees stay safe at work, especially given the complexity of guarding them from COVID-19. Manufacturers still need to up their game with it comes to the basics of good housekeeping and sanitation.
Do you have an overall industrial hygiene plan? Does it include heightened cleaning protocols, using disposable wipers to help prevent recontamination of surfaces? Have you instituted a robust hand-hygiene program, including on-going employee education and ample supplies for washing, drying and sanitizing hands? And do you have clearly- communicated policies for worker attendance/absence when symptomatic? These are just a few of the factors an effective plan should take into consideration.
Learn about PPE vending machines and new approaches to industrial hygiene
Keeping workers safe and healthy on the job should always be a top priority, and never more so than during this challenging time. Plant and production managers are well-advised to explore the many options in PPE vending machines, and to get free planning resources, educational supplies and information on other industrial hygiene innovations from industry leaders.
1 Fortune Business Insights: Industrial Vending Machine Market to Reach 3.68 billion by 2027
2 Safety+Health: OSHA’S Top 10 Most-Cited Safety Violations
3 1SourceVend: Dramatically Improve Facility Safety Compliance with PPE Vending Machines