Over the last several months, the coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the operational standards of many industries. Although many people have enjoyed working in the comfort of their own homes, there are many others who have bravely reported to work despite the threat of contracting COVID-19. In markets such as industrial manufacturing, implementing new safety standards and installing protective solutions is critical to maintaining the health and safety of those who work in these facilities.
At Piedmont Plastics, there are a variety of performance plastics that can be used to help reduce the spread of disease in environments where close contact is unavoidable. These products can be used for solutions including safety partitions, face shields, adhesive films and more, which can provide much-needed protection for workers in industrial settings like manufacturing and distribution facilities. In addition, these applications can continue to be used to keep employees safe once the pandemic begins to subside. In this article, we will cover each of these solutions in detail by discussing the capabilities of each application and the materials that are most effective.
To begin, lets analyze the effectiveness of installing safety partitions between employees who work in close quarters, such as those placed along conveyor and assembly lines. These areas certainly face challenges with social distancing due to the number of employees who are required to work within 1 to 2 feet from each other. By installing transparent barriers between employees, the spread of disease can be reduced significantly.
Many of these partitions are made from products like extruded acrylic, cast acrylic, polycarbonate, and PETG. These materials are perfect for industrial facilities where durable equipment is vital. The superior impact resistance, excellent optical clarity, and light-weight design of these materials make them the preferred products when compared to alternative materials such as glass. For example, acrylic typically weighs 50 percent less than glass, and depending on the thickness of the material, it can weigh between .038 and 6 pounds per square foot. In addition, the tensile strength of acrylic is calculated at 10,000 psi, with approximately 17 times the impact resistance of glass. Furthermore, the IZOD impact of acrylic is 0.4 ft-lbs/in notched and the IZOD impact of polycarbonate can be between 15.0 and 17.0 ft-lbs/in notched.
Another benefit of using performance plastics for barriers is that polycarbonate meets the UL94 Class A fire rating when used for stationary barriers. This is vital for any industrial facility looking to keep people safe while also meeting various building code regulations. In short, the superiority of performance plastic materials such as acrylic should be chosen over alternative transparent materials for a more durable and easy-to-handle product.
Face shields also play an important role in keeping employees safe from hazardous fluids, foreign particles, and the spread of disease. Face shields offer superior protection in a variety of environments, including industrial facilities, where potential hazards are typically more common. Although these shields cannot guarantee total protection from airborne diseases, they can still add an extra layer of disease protection from those who sneeze and cough. Furthermore, these shields do more than just protect employees from infectious disease. They are also durable and versatile enough to be used for projects where general face protection is needed.
Some of the materials used in face shield can also be used for safety partitions, with the main difference being the thickness of the sheet. In addition to acrylic and PETG, face shields are made using films such as polycarbonate films and polyester films. Using performance plastics in face shield applications offer a tremendous benefit as opposed to using alternative materials. For example, performance plastics maintain high optical clarity, great strength, and superior heat, impact, and chemical resistance. To describe the superiority of plastic films, we will use polyester film as an example. The tensile strength of polyester film can range between 28,000 and 34,000 psi depending on the directional orientation of the film as it moves through the machine. In addition, the total light transmission of polyester films can range between 87 and 89 percent, depending on the thickness of the film. Many face shields can also include additives for anti-fog properties so that breathing doesn’t cause visibility issues. There is a variety of other technical data for these materials, so if you want to learn more about the benefits of performance plastics, contact your local Piedmont Plastics branch today!
Although vinyl materials may not seem like products that can directly protect employees from disease and other hazards, they are an effective solution for communicating safety guidelines in industrial facilities. For example, adhesive backed vinyl films are used in applications such as window, wall, and floor graphics to remind employees about the importance of social distancing and safety standards. If industrial facilities want to keep employees apart while they work, they can place floor graphics on the ground to let workers know where to stand. Adhesive backed graphics can also be placed on machines to provide step-by-step instructions for machine operators and remind them of the dangers of using a machine incorrectly.
Once industrial facilities begin installing safety partitions and providing employees with face shields for additional protection, the plastic materials will inevitably need to be cleaned. Piedmont Plastics offers a wide variety of industrial cleaners and protectants that can help extend the life of many plastic applications. It is important to use the proper solutions when cleaning a plastic surface, otherwise irreversible damage and discoloration can occur. By using appropriate cleaning solutions and materials, such as those from the Brillianize product line, the life of your plastic applications can be prolonged for future use.
At Piedmont Plastics, we offer a wide variety of performance plastic materials for your protective applications. Contact us today to inquire about our various solutions or call us today to speak with an expert! You can also read our social distancing solutions brochure which include more information about our social distancing products and solutions!