11 Jun 2021

High visibility clothing is apparel with highly reflective properties that help workers stay visible against any background and in any lighting condition—even in the middle of the night. These garments are popular among jobs like highway and railroad construction workers, construction tradespeople, airport workers, trash and recycling collectors, landscaping professionals, warehouse workers, first responders, and many others. 

Although this type of clothing applies to various industries, most of them have one thing in common: the workers are frequently in contact with large vehicles. For this reason, it is crucial that employees can be seen at any point during their shift. If you own or operate businesses in any of these industries, making your employees visible is imperative for their safety. But when it comes to choosing the right clothing for your workers, the selection process can be tricky. It is vital to get up to speed on the latest requirements, and ANSI recently released new updates to the standards for high visibility clothing

Overview of ANSI Standards for High Visibility Clothing

The American National Standards Institute (or the ANSI) provides vivid and consistent guidelines for selecting and using high visibility clothing in the United States. 

ANSI 107-2010 was a standard for construction, emergency responders, utility, airport ramp personnel, and anyone else who routinely works in low visibility areas. 

The standard is revised approximately every 5 years. The last major update, in 2015, created the current high visibility apparel types:

  • Type O (Off-Road)
    • Workers who can be exposed to traffic at or below 25 mph.
  • Type R (Roadway)
    • Workers who are exposed to highway traffic and working against complex backgrounds in daytime and nighttime environments.
  • Type P (Public Safety)
    • Emergency/incident responders and law enforcement in both roadway and off-road environments.

These types are further organized into classes based on worker hazards and tasks, the complexity of the job site’s background, and vehicular traffic and speed:

The hi-vis examples shown below are from our partner at Protective Industrial Products (PIP). They offer hi-vis options to fit all your safety needs. They also manufacture hi-vis apparel that is self-extinguishing, include D-Ring access, UV protection, insect repellant and are water resistant.

  • Performance Class 1 (Type O Only)
    • This class provides the minimum amount of high visibility materials required for workers who aren’t required to come into “considerable contact” with large vehicles traveling over 25 mph.

  • Performance Class 2 (Type R & Type P)
    • Provides for the use of additional high visibility materials for workers who require greater visibility in poor weather conditions or find themselves near roadways and areas with high traffic traveling between 25-50 mph.

(The vest below is one of PIP’s 5 Point Breakaway Vests: A five point breakaway system allows workers to quickly remove the vest for additional safety around extreme traffic hazards, moving machinery or equipment.)

  • Performance Class 3 (Type R & Type P)
    • Provides the highest level of visibility reserved for workers in high-risk environments that involve high task loads, a wide range of weather conditions, and areas with heavy traffic traveling over 50 mph.

(The vest below is just one of PIP’s PPE offering specifically designed for female workers with a contoured fit and drawstring adjustable waist.)

  • Supplemental Class E
    • Includes pants, bib overalls, shorts, and gaiters, which are not compliant when worn alone. When combined with Class 2 or Class 3 apparel, the combination satisfies Class 3 requirements.

What’s New in ANSI/ISEA 107-2020

The latest updates cover 5 main areas of the ANSI standard for high visibility clothing:

  1. Elimination of Criteria within the Accessories Category.
      • While workers are still encouraged to wear high visibility accessories on the job to increase biomotion, ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 no longer includes criteria for this category.
  2. New requirements for single-use disposable coveralls.
      • Because they have become more popular, ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 applies to single-use disposable coveralls the same minimum material amounts and requirements imposed on all compliant high visibility clothing.
      • In addition, all single-use coveralls must include the following on product tags:
        • This garment meets the single-use disposable coverall requirements of ANSI/ISEA 107-2020, Section 11.
        • SINGLE-USE ONLY.
        • DO NOT REMOVE THIS LABEL
  3. Elimination of maximum wash cycles on care labels.
      • The previous standard required that care labels list a maximum number of wash cycles to indicate the lifespan of the garment’s reflective tape.
      • The maximum wash cycle label requirement has been eliminated to avoid confusion about wear and tear on the apparel that might call for the garment to be retired before meeting the maximum number of wash cycles.
  4. New testing requirements for segmented reflective tape.
      • Segmented and perforated retroreflective tape has also become more popular, so the new standard includes additional testing requirements to establish the retroreflectivity of the background material.
      • This was done to discourage manufacturers from overstating the brightness of a garment’s reflective tape.
  5. Minor changes to the ANSI-107 tag.
    • The year 2015 will be replaced by 2020.
    • If a garment is not flame-resistant, the label must include the statement “This garment is not flame resistant as defined by ANSI/ISEA 107-2020.”

There are additional changes contained in the latest ANSI-107 guidelines. Click here to learn more from the ANSI Blog. Access a copy of the full standard here.

Find the Best High Visibility Gear for Your Crew

Safety regulations and procedures are not to be taken lightly in any industry, let alone those that regularly require interaction with large vehicles. Quest Safety Products only supplies high visibility garments from all the top ANSI-compliant manufacturers. And since compliance on safety gear can vary from industry to industry, Quest Safety Products will find the best high visibility clothing for your specific needs. You can turn to us to ensure you meet all standards so you can focus on what your organization does best.

Partner with Quest

04 Jun 2021

COVID-19 underscored the global supply chain’s fragile nature and the need to develop a more resilient infrastructure to avoid critical shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE),sanitizers, ventilators, drugs and other products.

  • Many factories closed temporarily, this is now continuing as COVID outbreaks persist.
  • A large numbers of containers, estimated to be as high as 60%, were stranded in-transit, made worse with a reduction in ships-at-sea. This is staggering as the China to USA trade route uses on average 900,000 containers per month.
  • Asian nations declared lockdowns and stopped exports to ensure their own supply.
  • Combined with the shortage of containers is the doubling of lead times to 6-9 months for many items.
  • JIT inventory holding made the problems even worse.
  • New manufacturers could not scale-up quickly and many did not have the experience needed to make quality PPE.

Rising Container Cost & Extended Lead Times

Reviving the extended supply chains from Asia, especially China, is taking time and it is evident that the transpacific volume from Asia headed stateside is not slowing (according to Descartes Datamyne). The single biggest factor appears to be stranded containers from various lockdowns and governmental restrictions. Freight shipping is in the midst of a unique and unusual predicament that includes soaring demand, saturated ports, and too few available ships, dockworkers and truckers. No short-term fixes are in sight.


Container costs are already up over 2x pre-COVID and are expected to rise further. This is resulting in price increases. A fully loaded container from China to the USA was just below $6000 pre-COVID. It is rising to nearly $14000. To make matters worse, the lead time for some imports has more than doubled, going to 6-9 months.

Supply is Constrained

The supply situation is made severe by the heightened demand from the Health Care segment. Some
key findings by Becker’s Hospital Review are:
Disposable gloves

  • Availability of exam gloves is expected to be constrained into 2023.
  • Global demand for nitrile exam gloves exceeds production capacity by about 215 billion units, or about 40 percent.
  • Shortages have been exacerbated by raw material scarcity, port closures and delays, and a twofold increase in usage since June 2020.
  • Spending on Gloves rose 250 percent between November 2020 and March 2021.

N95 masks 

  • As COVID-19 cases drove a surge in demand for N95 masks during the first wave of the pandemic.  One year later, the N95 market is still constrained, but not in active shortage.
  • 3M has dramatically increased production.

Surgical & isolation masks 

  • Usage of surgical and isolation masks tripled between June 2020 and March 2021.
  • By February 2021, surgical mask spend was about 100 percent higher than February 2020. 

Protective Clothing

  • When manufacturers began prioritizing N95s and other masks, isolation gown supply compressed.
  • Isolation gowns surpassed N95 masks as the top PPE shortage concern by mid-April 2020, with 74 percent of health systems saying gowns were their top concern.
  • Gown purchasing was up about 100 percent in February and March this year compared to February 2020. 

Costs Still Well Above Pre-COVID Levels

There were exponential cost increases in PPE last year, especially on products going to the Health Care segment like gloves, gowns and masks.

Some have rolled back, but many are still well above pre-COVID levels. Nitrile gloves, in particular, are still nearly 70% above 2019 and expected to potentially increase further (as forecasted by Ansell in a May 20201 Market Updated). Fact.MR summed it as: “Sky-high demand for nitrile disposable gloves from the medical sector is aiding manufacturers, while initiatives undertaken by private and government organizations are spurring the growth of the market”. Protective clothing (+17%) and shoe covers (+15%) are still high. N95 masks have fallen back with the dramatic increase in manufacturing by 3M.

The World Health Organization has warned that “severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) – caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus outbreaks and other infectious diseases”.

Be Careful with Alternate Sources

Many new manufactures emerged in 2020 – especially those with capabilities to manufacture similar products switching to PPE. They were trying to help in a difficult situation. However, there have been cases where such products that do not meet OSHA requirements and even outright fraud. Both Ansell and 3M have issued warnings and guidelines – especially on disposable gloves and N95 respirators. 

Steps for “Next Time” 

A lot has been written about key lessons learnt and steps to take for “the next time”. Four actions stand out for companies to seriously include in their planning for the future.

Below is a similar note by the American Health Association on steps to take to strengthen the supply infrastructure in the medical field.

4 Steps to a Stronger Supply Infrastructure By The American Health Association

1. Coordinate the Response to Offers for Help

Many hospitals and health systems were flooded with calls, emails and other inquiries about PPE needs as the pandemic unfolded. Some messages reached the supply team, others didn’t. This underscores the need for purchasing or another department to be the single point of contact for coordinating with alternative suppliers and donors.

2. Vet Equipment Designs to Ensure Quality

Food and Drug Administration approval processes that certify the designs and production processes of products and emergency use authorizations allowed nontraditional suppliers to produce low-risk PPE. Quality control became an issue as some products from these sources proved to be ineffective, uncomfortable or unsafe. Digital platforms for aggregating, documenting and vetting medical supply designs can help. Open Source Medical Supplies, a collaborative between manufacturers and physicians, was launched last March to aid in this effort. The group has created a library of nearly 200 open-source designs for PPE and medical devices. These designs are vetted by medical advisers, and a volunteer community offers input on improving designs for safety.

3. Develop Alternative Suppliers before They’re Needed

Identifying and forging relationships now with alternative suppliers, and adding these sources to approved vendor lists will allow provider organizations to move quickly during emergencies. To jump-start this effort, the AHA’s Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management website provides a wealth of tools, including a list of more than 400 vetted and approved nontraditional suppliers offering PPE and other supplies and services.

4. Test Supply Chain Availability

As part of emergency preparedness drills, include the potential for large-scale supplier disruption and determine which existing and alternative suppliers the organization can turn to when product shortages begin to surface.

Here at Quest Safety Products, we are working hard to stay ahead of supply chain issues to avoid passing the rising transportation costs off to our customers. If you are looking to diversify your supply chain with a secondary supplier, Quest is experienced in managing the Supplier Change Process to ensure a smooth addition. If this is something your organization is working though, we are here to help.

27 May 2021

Hot weather is great for heading to the beach, but it can be dangerous for those working in high temperatures. 

Both outdoor and indoor workers exposed to hot temperatures run the risk of heat stress. Unfortunately, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11 workers are killed or severely injured by heat stress every day

Heat safety in the workplace is the best way to avoid heat stress and keep your whole team safe.

In this blog, we’ll focus on heat safety and dive into how to keep yourself and your team safe while working in high temperatures.

What is Heat Stress?

The body regulates its temperature to stay below 99.7° F. However, when the body cannot maintain its normal temperature below 99.7 ° F, it goes into heat stress. When left to progress, heat stress can develop into serious heat-related illnesses and even heat stroke. Extremely high internal temperatures of 104° F damage the brain and can result in death within 30 minutes.

We’ll focus on the environmental factors of heat stress and what you can do to avoid heat stress in the workplace. Individual factors like medication, age, and weight can also increase the risk for some workers. 

Types of Heat Stress

Heat stress can result in several different heat-related illnesses such as:

  • Sunburn. Severe sunburn is a form of heat stress that can cause skin blistering. It’s often accompanied by dehydration and fatigue as well. 
  • Heat rash. This is a skin irritation that forms when sweat cannot evaporate from the skin. It’s common in hot work environments that require protective clothing or have limited airflow. 
  • Heat cramps. Excessive sweating causes fluid and salt loss. Low salt levels can lead to muscle cramps. This commonly occurs in tired muscles and can even show up after work. 
  • Heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that involves heavy sweating, dizziness, and headache. When it worsens, it can lead to vomiting and even fainting. 

How to Handle Signs of Heat Stress

For most signs of heat stress, the first course of action is to reduce physical activity and get to a cool place out of direct sunlight. Drink water or a sports drink and wait until you cool down to return to any physical activity. A heat rash must be kept dry, and you can apply powder to soothe it. Those with sunburn should stay out of the sun until it heals and use a moisturizing lotion.  

For heat exhaustion and heat cramps, seek out medical attention if vomiting occurs, symptoms last over an hour, or you have heart problems. If you suspect a heat stroke, call 911 immediately and use damp, cool clothes to bring the person’s temperature down. Do NOT give the person anything to drink.

Ways to Prevent a Heat-Related Illness

While knowing how to handle heat stress is vital in an emergency, the best strategy is to prevent heat stress altogether. Here are some helpful tips that you and your team should implement to avoid heat stress:

  • Acclimatize your team. Create an acclimatization plan to gradually increase your workers’ exposure to hot environments. For your current team, increase the time spent in the hot environment slowly over one to two weeks. On the other hand, new workers should not have any more than 20% exposure on the first day with a maximum of 20% additional exposure on the subsequent days. 
  • A partnering system. Use a buddy system to pair workers together. Each buddy is responsible for checking on the other to make sure they use water and shade during breaks. They should also check for heat-related symptoms. 
  • Appropriate clothing. Educate your team on appropriate clothing. Clothing should be loose-fitting, light-colored, and breathable. Opt for a sweat-wicking, breathable material as cotton can be soaked. While proactive equipment like gloves, boots, suits, and masks may be necessary, it increases the risk of heat stress. Workers that must use personal protective gear should be given adequate breaks outside of the gear. 
  • Water breaks. Fluids are vital for controlling body temperature during hot weather. Allow for many water breaks, encouraging your team to drink at least one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Educate your team. Discuss the risk and signs of heat stress with your team. Make sure they know what to watch for in themselves and others. Post a dehydration chart near the bathrooms to remind employees to check their hydration levels and hydrate accordingly. 

Check out our Heat Stress Resource Page for additional heat stress resources:

  • Heat Index Chart
  • Infographics
  • NIOSH Fast Facts
  • Printable posters from OSHA and NIOSH you can hang in your office
  • Ergodyne Toolbox Talks
  • OSHA Fact Sheets and Quick Card
  • Heat Stress Guides and White Papers
  • Additional Tools and Links

Quest Safety Can Help

Overheating at work is a serious issue that can lead to dangerous heat-related illnesses. Heat safety in the workplace is critical for preventing and adequately treating any heat stress. Quest Safety is here to help keep you and your team safe from the risks of heat stress. Contact us today to learn more about our summer safety solutions.

 

 

Single-Use versus Reusable Garments: Which Provides Better Protection?

Did you know the highest causes of contamination in controlled environments are from the people who work there? This means the right garments are critical. While it may seem like the best option would be reusable garments since they are made using more substantial material that can be washed repeatedly, it turns out the sterilization process may cause them to deteriorate over time, leading to lower bacterial efficiency than their disposable counterparts.

With this in mind, Quest recommends replacing reusable garments with disposable ones for the following reasons:

Ultimate Protection
With each laundering and sterilization, the air permeability, bacteria barrier, and tear strength efficiency of reusable garments is reduced and particle shedding is increased. Disposable apparel arrives clean, hygienically packaged, and ready to use.

Consistent Quality
Disposable garments provide more uniform and dependable protection every single time. The quality of reusable garments is inconsistent. You never know what the protection level is, depending on where they are in their lifecycle

Peace of Mind
With disposal garments you know exactly what level of protection your employees are getting every time they don garments. Inventory and usage costs are easy to predict and manage over time

Click on the image to download our helpful graphic on reasons to choose disposable over reusable garments.

Don’t just take our word for it. The proof is in the data. Our partners at DuPont shared a video where they put reusable garments to the test. They conducted testing by laundering and sterilizing two new,        reusable garments for 30 cycles and examined how well they held up. Here’s what they found.

Test #1: Air Permeability and Barrier on Reusable Garments
After 20 cycles, air permeability increased 5X (garment A) to 8X (garment B) based on the Frayser Air Permeability Test. This shows that garments become less airtight and less effective at bacterial filtration over time.

Test #2: Particle Shedding of Reusable Garments
After 30 cycles, there was a noticeable increase in particle shedding on fabric swatches cut from the tested reusable garments.

Test #3: Tear Strength
The tear strength of fabric cut from reusable polyester garments steadily decreased with each cycle. After 30 cycles, the tear strength dropped by 60%.

The takeaway? Single use garments provide more uniform and dependable protection, with consistent quality. Plus with single-use garments, both inventory and usage costs are easier to predict and manage over time. Taken all together, choosing disposable garments results in greater peace of mind when it comes to keeping your facilities contaminant free and running smoothly.

01 Mar 2021

These have been difficult months for logistic providers, businesses and consumers as shipping delays around the world have held up products and supplies with inventory levels being depleted. The shortage in containers and port delays are putting pressure logistic costs, which have generally doubled. “Supply chains may take several more months to return to some semblance of normality as inventory, now trapped further up the supply chain, will need to be cleared,” Ocean Insights’ Chief Operations Officer Josh Brazil reported in February.

Impact on International Shipping

Metrics such as carriers’ schedule reliability are worsening and cargo rollover rates are still on the rise. The average delay for containers increased from one day in January 2020, to more than five days in January 2021. More than 40 cargo ships with tens of thousands of containers were waiting at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in January reported Reuters, with an increase to 62 ships by late February. This has been similar at many US trade gateways.

Shipping Congestion in San Pedro Bay

The Chinese New Year has exacerbated COVID-19 related shipping delays outbound from China. The New Year celebrations now last a month as workers tend to take time off to visit distant homes. Internal travel restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities, requiring domestic travelers to quarantine for 14 days after traveling, has added a new bottleneck. Many Chinese factories have been totally closed for the month of February.

Global Schedule Reliability, declining since the middle of 2020, has not improved through February of this year. It appears that all 20 of the global ports for which Ocean Insights, a data analytics firm, collates data have seen a decline.

Global Schedule Reliability via Economic Times

“Huge numbers of medical supplies keep on coming along with furniture, appliances, construction material, landscaping, hot tubs and anything related to the outdoors,” said Mario Cordero, executive director at the Port of Long Beach. “Americans that have not been impacted by Covid will continue to spend and the surge could go on through late spring.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Industry executives say shipping rates have increased 50-100% and container rates have almost doubled. Quest Safety Products, a distributor based in Indianapolis, has even seen cancellations when their containers are rolled over because of overbooking but they are still charged cancellation fees. This is starting to result in price increases to the end-user of three to five percent.

On the Domestic Front

On the domestic front, according to FedEx, there are three major factors causing delays:

Heavy Package Volume

The pandemic has created record-breaking shipment volumes. As more people shop online to avoid crowds in stores, those numbers have grown even more. This has created shipping volumes that are taxing logistics networks nationwide, which may cause delays.

COVID-19 business closures

The pandemic continues to cause businesses around the country to close. If you need to send a shipment to an area that’s experiencing closures, contact your recipient before you ship to ensure they’re open and able to receive your package.

Weather and Other Service Disruptions

Seasonal weather events and other disruptions have occurred, causing delays for inbound and outbound shipments. Our top priorities are the safety and well-being of our team members and providing the best service to our customers.  

There has been a huge increase in freight volume since the economic contraction. As reported by FedEx, growth in eCommerce is driving small parcel growth. For 2021, FTR Transportation Intelligence forecasts an increase in truck loadings of about 5% and an increase in rates of about 8%. Spot rates are higher depending on disruptions and weather such as in February.

In Conclusion

Shipping delays have plagued 2020 and are likely to continue well into 2021 as inventory trapped in the supply chain becomes available and choke points, such as shipping ports, are cleared.

The expectation is that supply pressures will result in higher logistic costs. Expect these to be passed on to end-users. 

Maintaining inventory or accepting close alternatives are potential ways to overcome spot shortages that are occurring and likely to continue for some time. 

To maintain good customer relationships, it is important for suppliers to: 

  • Stay in close touch with their customers, keeping them advised of delays quickly so they can take possible steps to mitigate potential problems
  • Be honest and open about the delay
  • Offer close alternatives when possible 

Here at Quest Safety Products, we are working hard to stay ahead of supply chain issues to avoid passing the rising transportation costs off to our customers. If you are looking to diversify your supply chain with a secondary supplier, Quest is experienced in managing the Supplier Change Process to ensure a smooth addition. If this is something your organization is working though, we are here to help.

07 Jan 2021

This article focuses on some of the key trends and issues that are impacting workplace safety and will continue into 2021 and beyond. In summary:

  • Continued PPE Shortages: There are, and will continue to be, shortages of key personal protective equipment. These will include N95 masks, nitrile gloves, face shields, protective gowns, hand sanitizers, cleaning wipes, etc. Some supplies may be spotty and may have regional impact only.
  • Heightened Awareness: COVID has changed the world of workplace safety with workers being at higher risk, greater job insecurity, increasing concerns about family safety and more financial pressures; resulting in an unprecedented increase in awareness and public attention on workplace health & safety.  
  • Employee “Well-Being”: Leading organizations are starting to go beyond safety and even wellness. They have focused on safety for decades; more recently on employee wellness and supporting them in developing healthier lifestyles. With the new workplace realities, total employee “well-being” is emerging as balancing work and personal life is becoming more difficult with more stress, more anxiety and, unfortunately, people being unwell more often. 
  • Major Product Innovation Concepts: Several innovations became more popular. These include “Smart” PPE with sensors that monitor, collect, and record data in real time; products that allow for personal preferences; and products that increase workplace productivity.

Continued PPE Shortages

While the overall safety business will show a 6%-7% growth to $56B globally (Zion Research) driven by the Asia/Pacific region, some shortages are expected.  With Covid cases increasing and hitting new peaks around the world, the demand for certain PPE items is still very high; supply cannot keep up. The more significant of these include:

  • Disposable Masks: In 2019 850 tons of the material was used in disposable masks in the US. This is expected to increase to as much as 10,000 tons in 2021, satisfying perhaps 80% of demand ( www.ehs.com ). “N95s are still in high demand,” 3M Chief Executive Mike Roman told The Wall Street Journal. “We have more demand than we can supply.” 3M has quadrupled its production of N95 masks to 100 million a month, Honeywell is up to 20 million a month, and others are estimated at another 20 million per month.
  • Safety Gloves: Nitrile gloves have been in short supply since mid-year, with material cost increasing rapidly. Below are the prices paid by SW through midyear:

Since then supplies have tightened further, especially with Malaysia’s Top Glove Corporation, the world’s largest maker of rubber gloves, having had a two to four week closure as more than 2,000 factory workers were infected by the coronavirus (Malaysian Times). Ansell recently circulated the following on the supply and demand for exam and disposable gloves, indicating potential supply issues and price increases over the next 12–18 months.

  • Protective Clothing: According to Carmela Coyle, CEO of the California Hospital Association, COVID-19-related supply challenges will persist through 2022. “We have been challenged with shortages of isolation gowns, face shields, etc.” Because of the high demand in health care, material shortages have impacted availability of protective clothing and gowns beyond products for hospitals and frontline health care workers. Sporadic shortages in hand sanitizers and face shields have been reported, especially in certain regions.

The shortages, however, are unlikely to be as severe or widespread as in the spring. Hospitals, in particular are expecting rolling shortages of supplies such as specialized beds, disposable isolation gowns, masks and even thermometers.

What you can do:

Supply chain managers have reacted to these situations by (i) stockpiling extra inventory, (ii) developing multiple suppliers and, in some cases, (iii) turning to non-traditional manufacturers such as textile manufacturers where possible.

Heightened Awareness of Health & Safety

Clearly one result of COVID has been an unprecedented increase in awareness and public attention on workplace health & safety. This is creating a once in a generation opportunity to elevate safety in organizations to the benefit of today’s workforce and even future generations. 

Don Martin of DEKRA, which provides Testing, Inspection and Certification Services, summarized this well. There will be are three major changes with greater safety awareness (i) more attention to critical data and its  implications on safety and health, (ii) personal hygiene and area disinfection practices will increase and (iii) better preparedness for health emergencies. 

Robust safety programs will become more common and the four key elements in a successful safety program have always been: 

  1. Top management commitment, especially the CEO, and on- going attention to safety.
  2. The emergence of a safety champion who drives safety within an organization, most successful when this is the CEO; other leaders within the organization must be empowered to help build a strong safety culture.
  3. Employee buy-in and trust in the process; with initiatives to develop employee involvement in safety on a daily basis.
  4. Solid, regular, and open communication and feedback between the workers and top management so that issues are quickly identified and solutions found.

What you can do:

The difference in this COVID environment is the intense focus on workplace safety and the recognition of its importance—this should make it easier to implement successful safety programs. In a recent survey reported by Safety and Health Magazine, more than half of respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that employees generally comply with safety rules and policies, but view workplace safety as “someone else’s job.” There is still a gap to be filled—it is everyone’s job.

Employee “Well-Being”

Organizations at the forefront of employee and workforce relations are starting to look beyond Workplace Safety and even Employee Wellness to what is being called “Employee Well-Being.”

Workplace Safety got a solid boost in the early 1970’s with the establishment of OSHA and the emergence of safety regulations. Starting in the 1990’s more and more attention went to Employee Wellness as healthier employees would reduce sick leave and reduce health care costs. Programs here included more exercise facilities, quit-smoking programs, healthier eating, increased testing, etc. 

The grind of 2020 has impacted employee engagement and Gallup recorded an historic drop by the summer. This is the impact of the pandemic, political and ideological polarization, racial and economic inequality, etc. The key findings include:

  1. Employees fear for their physical well-being and PWC research showed that they fear getting sick from being at work.
  2. They are confronting isolation and loneliness, with a May 2020 Gallup showing that 47% felt worried and 24% felt lonely.
  3. Elevated stress levels have taken a toll on mental health with caring for families, children being at home, concerns about jobs, and fear of contracting COVID. According to recent research by Oracle, 78% of employees surveyed say that their mental health has been affected. 
  4. Further, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that about half of workplace accidents are partly attributable to drug abuse, and 11 percent of fatalities involve alcohol. Given their impact on safety, productivity, absenteeism, and morale—it makes sense that more companies are employing programs to provide treatment and support for affected workers. 
  5. This trend encompasses a shifting focus from detection to prevention. Safety programs have largely focused on detecting unsafe conditions, where companies spent more time mitigating risks after an accident. Now there is greater emphasis on prevention-based programs that emphasize education, training, and identifying issues before someone gets hurt.

What you can do:

Organizations need to be sensitive to these issues which are very likely to impact 2021. As the vaccine becomes more widely available and the country starts to get herd immunity, these may subside–but this is likely to take time. Well-being includes elements of mental health, a smooth return to the workplace, implementation of diversity and equity, and an overall positive employee experience within a defined purpose. This must go beyond just HR and should become a part of the role of line management.

Safety Product Innovation Trends

A key driver of the Safety and PPE business has always been product innovation. Some of the more significant trends in this area include:

  1. “Smart” PPE: This is emerging with the digital revolution and PPE with sensors are being introduced. They monitor, collect, and record biometric, location, and movement data in real time. These collect the same data as wearable devices, including the user’s heart rate, calories burned, steps walked, and blood pressure. This equipment can also track advanced metrics like the user’s blood alcohol content, blood oxygen levels, sweat levels, and vital signs. Next-generation smart PPE is expected to monitor workers’ fatigue and alertness. While there are some privacy concerns about how this data is collected and used by employers, monitoring factors that could contribute to accidents may significantly reduce the number of workplace accidents.
  1. PPE that helps improve worker productivity: This is a continuing trend to make PPE more comfortable, keep workers cooler or warmer depending on the environment, allow better and easier use of tools and machinery, etc.
  2. PPE that reflects workers’ personal preferences: This includes looser-fitting respirators that allow workers to wear facial hair, lighter fabrics and special textiles that enable clothing to meet protective standards while still providing style and comfort, more pastel colors especially for women.

In Conclusion

  • The coronavirus will continue to impact safety and PPE well into 2021 with the high COVID-related products being in much higher demand leading to shortage, though not as severe as last spring. 
  • The heightened awareness of health & safety and the recognition of its importance should make it easier to implement successful safety programs. 
  • Employee well-being, that is going beyond workplace safety and employee wellness is emerging and should expand rapidly. 
  • Finally the industry continues to innovate with “smart” PPE, helping to improve productivity and providing PPE that better meets personal preferences of the workforce.
15 Dec 2020

5 Benefits Your Vendor-Managed Inventory Partner Should Provide

 

The goal of a solid Vendor Management Inventory (VMI) program is to provide a mutually beneficial partnership between a supplier and its customer to ensure a smooth and accurate flow of goods between the two organizations. At Quest, we handle the complex challenges of inventory planning for customers operating in highly structured industries such as pharma and life sciences, where stocking levels can impact the bottom line.

At a time when keeping your workers, facilities, and products safe means ensuring you have the inventory you need to stay operational, partnering with a trusted VMI team can be a powerful tool in making sure your workers have what they need when they need it. To help make sure you are getting the most out of your VMI program, we are sharing five key benefits your Vendor-Managed Inventory partner should provide.

1. Increased Service Tailored to Your Unique Needs
A solid VMI program should always ensure you have no more and no less than what is absolutely needed to have onsite. When we kickoff a new VMI partnership here at Quest, we assign a VMI Specialist who is focused on a customer’s most important product and stocking needs. Rather than taking control away from the customer, we work together to analyze monthly usage needs to determine minimum and maximum inventory levels.

2. Improved Operational Efficiencies
The main benefit of VMI is to help your business run smoother and operate more efficiently. This can mean different levels of service for different organizations. At Quest, we can have VMI specialists perform inventory counts and deliveries each week, or we can have a specialist located onsite at all times. With part-time and full-time VMI, customers can focus their employees’ efforts on the work that generates company revenue. Additionally, VMI teams can help identify issues such as product expiration dates, tracking lot numbers, and managing important paperwork such as Certificate of Conformity.

3. Reduced Inventory Overstocks & Stock Shortages
VMI removes the need for the customer to have significant backup stock because the vendor manages the resupply lead times. Lower inventories for the customer can translate to significant cost savings.

Quest’s VMI team stocks and tracks customer inventory to ensure they have the products they need when they need them. Many times VMI teams are used in time-sensitive industries that also have regulatory demands. A pharmaceutical manufacturing production line running out of supplies can cause that line to shut down temporarily, costing the company tens of thousands of dollars. A strong VMI team ensures that doesn’t happen.

4. Onsite Technical Expertise
Working with a VMI specialist who understands your business is key. Quest carefully assigns a team specifically trained to work within your industry. This way, you can be sure the VMI team understands the requirements of your business, the timeframes you work under, and how product stocking affects your employees, products, and bottom line. If a problem arises with a product, VMI specialists with technical experience understand possible implications and can react quickly to offer various solutions.

5. Financial Transparency
Your vendor’s Sales and VMI team should be meeting with you regularly so you are aware of what stock is being used in your company and how much of it. They can also help explain why product changes were made by your safety managers or industrial hygienists. Quest performs site-specific reporting and spend usage that allows our customers to make better-informed business decisions and eliminate wasteful, non-value adding factors and other costs associated with inventory errors.

Better communication, inventory accuracy, forecasting and overall service are all possible through VMI. A good VMI partnership should create a service that has considered all aspects of the supply chain and any areas for concern so that the customer can focus on what they do rather than making sure they have the supplies they need to safely do it. To get the most out of a VMI program, be sure to work with a vendor that has experience in your industry. Your vendor should always have their finger on the pulse so when it’s time to source new or additional items, they have you covered. If you’re interested in learning how VMI can keep your business operating smoothly, our team can help.

How Quest is Minimizing the Impact of Rising PPE Prices and Supply Chain Shortages

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for single-use gloves and garments so dramatically, manufacturers are struggling to keep up. As we move into winter and face a surging positivity rate across the US, the gap between supply and demand will continue to grow.

The result will be higher costs driven by:

A high global demand that has tripled due to more stringent protocols in healthcare and frontline workers as well as governments stockpiling PPE across the globe.

A limited global supply due to a lack of manufacturing capabilities. Manufacturers typically produce 370 billion gloves a year, but an estimated 585 billion gloves are needed to meet global demand.

A shortage of raw materials—specifically anything made with polypropylene material—is driving up costs by 30%-50% and is expected to continue to rise.

An increase in production costs as manufacturers struggle to attract workers due to labor shortages, quarantines, and the cost of keeping workers safe. Additionally, distribution and logistics costs are increasing.

Quest Safety Products has developed a deep understanding of the pharmaceutical industry’s needs and requirements through technical training and decades of experience. This enables Quest to be hyper-focused on what impacts pharmaceutical customers at this time and source high-quality PPE alternatives during recent supply chain outages.

Learn how Quest is working to minimize the impact of rising PPE prices and supply chain shortages so you can keep your workers safe. Read more.

16 Nov 2020
Pharma worker in face mask and glasses

Supply Chain Disruption: Single-Sourcing Is No Longer a Solution

Managing disrupted supply chains is top of mind and has become more and more important for PPE, medical supplies, and other “essential” products. As COVID-19 cases spike around the country, the increased need for supplies will challenge supply chains again. In recent surveys, 94% of the Fortune 1000 companies have reported seeing coronavirus-driven supply chain disruptions and 56% of CFOs identified this as a key issue facing their company. Risk mitigation has become critical.

"The pandemic has been and will continue to be a major shock to global supply chains and sourcing strategies." -Harvard Business Review

When supply chains are disrupted, those who single source, in particular, suffer most. There are many examples of this especially for PPE and medical supplies. In times of shortages, most suppliers focus on their core customers. Many U.S. businesses are looking for multiple suppliers including ones in Mexico and Central America. Their proximity makes them more attractive, with lower shipping costs, no duties, and imports that aren’t on the high seas for weeks at a time. In other categories, Apple is moving a part of its supply chain to India. Indonesia has made dramatic changes to become more “business-friendly." This is what PwC and AmCham call a ‘China+1’ strategy.

In situations like a pandemic, companies need multiple suppliers, particularly for essential supplies. Spikes in demand, temporary trade restrictions, and shortages of critical supplies make consistent supply less reliable. A McKinsey survey shows that 93% of supply chain leaders are looking to improve resilience by dual sourcing (53%), increasing inventory of critical items (47%), nearshoring and increasing their supply base (40%), and regionalizing supply chains (38%).

WHERE TO START

With the COVID-19 spikes, the time to add an additional supplier is now.  According to McKinsey, “Actions taken now to mitigate the impact on supply chains can also build resilience against future shocks.” 

"Without data, you're just another person with an opinion." -W. Edwards Deming

Identify

To begin, businesses must identify at a granular level the items that are at high risk and develop a realistic plan going forward. It is necessary to critically review requirements to identify those that are sourced from high-risk areas and lack ready substitutes. McKinsey recommends developing a risk index for each based on the uniqueness and location of suppliers.

Research

Once you have identified your critical items, there are several factors to consider anytime you add a supplier to your supply chain. There are companies that typically specialize in certain industries or geographies. Finding one that has a deep knowledge and experience in your industry and understands the unique challenges your company faces will help to shorten the onboarding. These companies that already know your industry have experienced staff that is technically trained so they are hyper-focused on what impacts customers.

Learn

In addition to aligning with a company already familiar with your industry, you want to partner with suppliers that diversify their own supply chains in order to provide your company with peace of mind that they can deliver the products you need. They continuously monitor critical-to-business products and practices to limit disruptions and prepare for changes. A company that can provide you with demand forecasting and reports usage information by working closely with customers and manufacturers alike help to limit challenges in the future.

PARTNERING WITH SUPPLIERS

Once you have found a reliable supplier, commit to being transparent and responsive. Suppliers that make good partners often use the same protocol for their own supply chains. Due to their position in the marketplace, they can report potential issues to customers before they can negatively impact the safety of employees or pharmaceutical production. Decision-makers and manufacturers that foster frequent and transparent communication have better outcomes.

Another good practice for both suppliers and customers is to purchase and warehouse additional inventory on items that may have emerging supply constraints. Your supplier should be able to work with you to mitigate most risk. Often is the case in shortages, COVID-19 related products have been placed on a restricted-access list and purchases of these must be cleared by senior management; priority for COVID-19 products typically goes to top customers.

SUPPLY CHAIN RESISTENCE

Most companies are assessing their supply chains and taking action to improve resilience. As a start, they are identifying the products and materials that are at high risk and developing realistic plans going forward. Gartner has identified six strategies. Some best practices include:

  • Diversifying sources for critical components and materials; this includes geographic diversification, partnering with the same supplier, or using secondary sources. Those highly dependent on China are considering a China+1 strategy.
  • Building higher levels of safety stock or strategic inventory reserves of, at the least, critical supplies and “essential” items.
  • Multiple- sourcing, especially for high-risk items, and building partnerships with a few suppliers. In addition to reducing disruption risks, this can have additional benefits such as access to more capabilities, more ideas for cost reductions, etc.
  • They are ensuring that transportation is not a bottleneck. This is one reason companies are looking to have supply options closer to home.

Gartner supply chain resilience chart

05 Oct 2020

Restructuring Disrupted Supply Chains: Single Sourcing is No Longer a Solution

Supply chain management is a critical factor in many businesses’ long-term success, and the COVID-19 global pandemic has wreaked havoc across many industries. When a disaster strikes, everyone suffers: buyers and suppliers alike. Managing disrupted supply chains is top of mind, but it has become more important than ever for companies dealing with PPE, medical supplies, and other “essential” products. In recent surveys, 94% of the Fortune 1000 companies have reported seeing coronavirus-driven supply chain disruptions, and 56% of CFOs identified this as a key issue facing their company (PwC). Risk mitigation has become critical.

“The pandemic has been and will continue to be a major shock to global supply chains and sourcing strategies.” –The Harvard Business Review

When supply chains are disrupted, those who single source, in particular, suffer. There are numerous examples of where this has become an issue, especially for PPE and medical supplies. Many US businesses are looking at the Far East, Mexico, and Central America for additional suppliers. In other categories, Apple is moving a part of its supply chain to India. Indonesia has made dramatic changes to become more “business-friendly.” Mexico and Central America’s proximity makes them more attractive, with lower shipping costs, no duties, and imports that aren’t on the high seas for weeks at a time. PwC and AmCham call this a ‘China+1’ strategy.

Companies are identifying items at risk, developing realistic plans for moving forward, becoming more flexible and agile, gaining greater visibility to suppliers, and more accessible processes for onboarding new ones.

MULTIPLE SOURCING PARTNERSHIPS ENSURE EFFICIENT SUPPLY CHAINS

Quest Safety Products has been proactive in managing its supply lines and inventory by leveraging and expanding its sourcing partnerships.

The Power of the Network

Quest Safety leverages the power of the SafetyNetwork buying group of 55 members. This gives Quest access to manufacturers’ and suppliers’ top-level decision-makers. The buying group shares available inventory to meet customer demand and shares best-in-class, next-level suppliers outside the buying group. The size of the buying group’s orders allow them to negotiate large volume buys such as an N95 mask program with Honeywell or a Container Purchase Program for Nitrile gloves. With 55 members in the networks, customers receive excellent service nearly anywhere in the country.

Global Supply Relationships

Quest Safety works directly with overseas manufacturers to reduce costs and increase availability. We have long-standing relationships with Far East manufacturers. Quest is also in discussions with leading manufacturers in Mexico and Central America to strengthen the supply chain and ensure continuity. Samples are being manufactured for a number of products to ensure quality. These global relationships also help our company better understand events or disruptions occurring outside the US.

Transparent Communication

Quest Safety understands the importance of transparent communication, especially related to the products customers need to operate. This includes discussing any potential issues before they negatively impact the safety of their employees or pharmaceutical production.

COVID-19-related products are on a restricted-access list, and purchases must be cleared by senior management at Quest and top customers get priority.

UNIQUE SUPPLY CHAIN REQUIREMENTS OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

Quest Safety Products has developed a deep understanding of the pharmaceutical industry’s needs and requirements through technical training and decades of experience. This enabled Quest to be hyper-focused on what impacts pharmaceutical customers at this time and source high-quality PPE alternatives during recent supply chain outages.

Quest has a conference call with PPE manufacturers every two weeks to understand the supply chain status and work through challenges. The company continually monitors critical-to-business products and practices, doing this every two weeks or monthly with the customer’s end-users or usage committee group. Consistent communication allows Quest to provide demand forecasting and reports usage information by working closely with customers and manufacturers to ensure a smooth flow of information.

MITIGATE RISK THROUGH A CONSISTENT SUPPLY

Most companies are assessing their supply chains and taking action to improve resilience. As a start, they are identifying – at a granular level – the products and materials that are high risk and developing realistic plans going forward. In summary, best practices include:

  • Diversifying sources for critical components and materials; this includes geographic diversification, partnering with the same supplier, or using secondary sources.
  • Those highly dependent on China are considering a China+1 strategy.
    Building higher levels of safety stock or strategic inventory reserves of, at the least, critical supplies and “essential” items.
  • Multiple-sourcing, especially for high risk items, and building partnerships with a few suppliers. In addition to reducing disruption risks, this can have additional benefits such as access to more capabilities, more ideas for cost reductions, etc.
  • Ensuring that transportation is not a bottleneck. This is one reason companies are looking to have supply options closer to home.

When a pharmaceutical company needs to consider adding a vendor to guarantee they get the products they need, Quest is experienced in managing the Supplier Change Process to ensure a smooth addition. If this is something your organization is working though, we are here to help.

Founded in 1997, Quest Safety Products is a full-line distributor and manufacturer of safety products, disposable garmenting, and equipment for any environment that requires safety equipment, risk mitigation or hazmat protection. Quest is a certified SBA HUBZone company, Board Member of AD SafetyNetwork Buying Group, and PSCI member company – Audited. Award winner from Eli Lily, AstraZeneca, NMSDC, HUBZone Council and SBA.