In industry roles, personal protective equipment is a necessity to ensure safety. Now, employers can customize it for a streamlined, professional look that also makes workers more identifiable and increases the likelihood that they’ll wear required gear. Here’s everything to know about choosing the right custom PPE.

Metalworking and machine shops are required by the U.S. government to provide a variety of personal protective equipment to their workers, and they’re beginning to realize the rules create a valuable branding opportunity—one with some surprising fringe benefits.

Along with the promotional pluses of drawing more attention to a business, the extra investment can increase employee compliance with safety rules as well as strengthen morale, suppliers say.

“Putting your logo on PPE can make workers easily identifiable,” especially in an emergency, says Brad Lohse, a senior national account manager for Milwaukee Tool, which is among companies including 3M that offer customizable gear. “Plus, when people are wearing their company’s logo, it gives them a sense of pride in their work."

Other advantages include fostering employee loyalty and promoting unity and equality, suppliers say. Workers are also more likely to wear customized gear, which lowers the risk of severe injury in accidents or fines for violating government safety standards because they left it off.

With the range of safety equipment required for American industry, the opportunities for adding logos are virtually unlimited. There are safety glasses, lab coats, hard hats, full-body suits and more.

To make customizing simpler, Milwaukee created an online tool accessible through its personal protective equipment portal that lets buyers customize safety vests, hard hats and helmets virtually, check out the results and make adjustments if needed before placing their order.

The tool accepts most graphic file types, and customer support is available for converting uploaded files to higher-resolution images, if needed, the company says.

“When a person is wearing an uncomfortable hard hat, they are more likely to take it off.”
Bill Veeninga

If you’re interested in learning more about customizable gear for your employees, here are five tips that can help you maximize the benefits of the switch while avoiding some expensive drawbacks:

Create a kit that covers all employee needs

Under U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules, employers are responsible for providing personal protective equipment that guards workers against job hazards, with the exception of prescription safety eyewear and steel-toed boots. Providing a complete kit to new hires that includes all the branded PPE they need to stay safe on the job can help prevent oversights. You might also consider regularly refreshing the gear of employees who have been around for a while with branded options to ensure optimal safety and performance.

Prioritize comfort

When your employees have to wear safety glasses, hard hats and gloves all day long, comfort is key. “When a person is wearing an uncomfortable hard hat, they are more likely to take it off,” says Bill Veeninga, a senior account executive at 3M, whose customizable equipment includes hats that clients can design on its website. That would negate the benefits of buying branded safety gear as well as put you at higher risk of violating OSHA rules that can lead to costly fines, preventable injuries, higher workers’ compensation expenses and lost work time that hampers productivity. Choose tech-forward safety wear that ensures an optimal fit for employees, such as 3M’s hard hats, which use SecureFit suspension technology to keep workers’ hats on their heads comfortably.

Opt for easy customization

When it comes to branding your PPE, be sure to choose a vendor that provides a simple, streamlined process. “We heard from customers that it can be a frustrating experience when they have to fax or email logos and don’t get to see the design in real time,” Lohse says. In response to that, Milwaukee Tool’s system is built so that “users can upload their logo and see a 3D visual of their custom order, then order easily without added fees.”

Keep shipment times in mind

Supply chain issues have disrupted American markets from new cars to baby formula. Safety gear, unfortunately, is not immune. Luckily, most manufacturers have caught up to the pandemic-fueled demand for PPE: “We’re capable of producing over 3 billion respirators per year,” notes Veeninga. But PPE is a growing industry, with Grand View Research forecasting the global market will be $112 billion by 2028. As manufacturers ramp up production to meet it, some items may take longer to ship because of a shortage of truck drivers, high shipping demand caused by growth in online shopping and relocation of factories to avoid violating global sanctions. That means you’ll need to pay close attention to delivery times to ensure you have the gear you need when you need it. Adding your company’s logo to the products may delay arrival further, so take that into account as well. When you order custom PPE through Milwaukee’s PPE portal, most orders arrive within two to three weeks.

Establish a policy for branded gear

When your employees are on the job, branded equipment has the double benefit of looking professional and making employees easily identifiable. If workers wear the branded gear, especially face masks, in public during their off hours, however, their conduct then will reflect on your business even though they’re not at work. In the wrong setting, that can quickly generate negative publicity. Drafting a written policy that covers such situations can protect both your brand and your employees.

Quick Poll: Custom PPE

Adding company logos to personal protective equipment (PPE) not only promotes a business’s brand, it also offers benefits such as increasing compliance with safety rules.

How has your company benefited from customized PPE?

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