Crowdsourcing Challenge Seeks to Develop Better PPE

  June 1, 2022

By Dan Hounsell

Personal protective equipment (PPE) remains a controversial topic in institutional and commercial facilities more than two years after the COVID-19 outbreak exposed shortfalls in the manufacturing, distribution and performance of these critical products. Many workers in all types of institutional and commercial facilities — especially healthcare facilities — continue their efforts to find masks, gloves, gowns and apparel to protect themselves from a range of health and safety threats. Now the U.S. government is turning to the marketplace for answers to the PPE challenge. 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently launched a crowdsourcing challenge to develop better fitting and more effective PPE. The NIOSH Protective Clothing Challenge—Leaving No Body Unprotected will award a total prize purse of $55,000 to up to five teams whose innovations meet the challenge goals. 

“U.S. workers require protective clothing that fits properly to perform their jobs safely. Protective clothing that fits poorly can compromise the safety and performance of people as they work, resulting in injuries and lost time to those trying to do their jobs and risks to those around them," according to the NIOSH press release. “Unfortunately, for many workers, finding properly fitting protective clothing is harder than it should be.” NIOSH is seeking the public’s help in generating innovative solutions to address the issue. 

“These solutions will help to ensure that protective clothing designs and supporting guidance allow for safe use by all workers with these designs being equitably available in the marketplace and at the point of use,” according to the release. “Solutions should consider the broad spectrum of U.S. workers in relation to factors that may influence fit such as body size and shape, gender, race, ethnicity, religious or cultural practices, or specific work tasks.”

Dan Hounsell is senior editor, facility group


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