Definition – What does Aramid mean?
Aramid, in the context of workplace safety, is closely related to personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is often made from this class of synthetic polyamides, formed from aromatic monomers, that produce fibres of significant strength and thermal stability.
Produced from aromatic polyamides and inducted into commercial applications in the 1960s, a meta-aramid was first introduced by Dupont with Nomex as its trade name. While these synthetic polyamides have various applications, they do stand out for their use in the manufacture of protective gear that does not melt or even burn in conjunction with normal oxygen levels.
HSSE WORLD explains Aramid
Today, aramid continues to be used in the production of protective gear that facilitates the safety of workers in America and around the world. This fact is mostly true for environments wherein workers to face significant heat exposure and stand the risk of burn injuries and other workplace hazards. In industries such as pharmaceuticals fabrication, mining, glass mining, sheet metal fabrication, paper mining, and others, the use of aramid polyamide fibres in protective gear has proven the potential to reduce workplace accidents and hazards for workers to a significant degree. Furthermore, the strength and durability of aramid serve to comply with norms and regulations pertaining to PPE in the workplace.
Aramid polyamide fibres have a range of properties conducive to the production of effective PPE. These polyamides boast of significant abrasion-resistance, are non-conductive, resist organic solvents, and retain fabric integrity even at high altitudes. Furthermore, aramid polyamides are significantly heat-resistant with a high melting point of 500 degrees Celsius and have a distinct low-flammability property, which means that these fibres are resistant to flames and do not ignite under normal circumstances. Bearing in mind these properties, it is easy to see how aramid polyamides, when used to produce protective gear for workers, can serve as ideal PPE, the provision of which is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the U.S. Department of Labor.
OSHA provides extensive guidelines to employers to facilitate the safety of workers in its manual for PPE, which stresses the need for protective gear for workers who are subject to various workplace risks and hazards. This includes heat exposure, as well as the risk of injury caused by sharp objects, electrical shocks, or organic solvent neurotoxicity.
The use of aramid polyamides to produce protective gear for workers, firefighters, and even soldiers is undoubtedly an advanced form of risk management in keeping with norms and regulations for employee safety. Employers are accountable for the provision of such equipment including jackets, gloves, and other apparel for workers exposed to various workplace risks. Additionally, according to OSHA’s PPE manual, employers are accountable for training workers in the appropriate use of aramid protective gear, the maintenance of such gear. and the provision of timely replacements when needed.