Lockout and tagout equipment specialist Cirlock describes the trends in the safety equipment business, their response to these trends, key factors driving changes and challenges facing this sector.
What are the trends that have shaped safety equipment in recent years?
According to Cirlock, the trends shaping the safety equipment market come from better safety awareness in workplaces and also from improved technology in the last couple of decades. Many large companies seem to have realised the importance of personnel safety in the workplace, and have implemented high safety standards for their staff, keeping in mind employee welfare as well as company reputation.
A higher degree of safety awareness within businesses creates a larger overall market for safety equipment, increasing competition, and leading to new developments of better safety products. Hardware products such as lockout devices have also improved over recent years. For instance, lockout padlocks are now made with moulded industrial plastic bodies, instead of brass or steel, resulting in lighter weight and availability of multiple colours. The ease of printing colour photos on almost any material has also made it possible to have individual photos on personal safety equipment such as danger tags and padlocks.
How has Cirlock as a supplier responded to these trends?
As a manufacturer and supplier of safety equipment, it is important to closely monitor trends and needs of clients. As an Australian industry leader in lockout/tagout equipment, Cirlock continuously looks for ways to improve and expand their large range of safety equipment to ensure it meets the needs of commercial and industrial users.
How does Cirlock see this changing in the next 12-24 months, and what will drive the change?
Different industries have, to some extent different needs of safety equipment. The mining industry operates in a different way to the building industry or to the manufacturing industry, while commercial tradespeople such as electrical workers and plumbers have their own specific needs for portable safety equipment.
Given that the mining industry is going through a slow period, the building industry is expected to drive any future changes. The emerging coal seam gas industry also offers a potential market for new types of safety equipment. Cirlock is equipped to supply lockout/ tagout equipment for any industry.
What are the major challenges facing the safety equipment industry right now?
One of the major challenges facing Australian safety equipment suppliers and users is the problem of cheaply produced imported safety products that are non-compliant with accepted safety standards. These can include direct look-alikes of quality products, but without the performance. For instance, Cirlock has had several of its own in-house designed and Australian made safety lockout padlocks copied by overseas companies.
One contributing factor to this situation is that there are no comprehensive Australian Standards to follow for many types of safety equipment. As the leading Australian manufacturer of lockout/ tagout equipment, Cirlock is trying to set benchmarks for Australian used safety products.
How has Cirlock adapted to these challenges?
Cirlock has been manufacturing lockout/ tagout equipment in Australia for over 20 years, striving to make products that fit well with Australian used equipment, using parts that are to a large extent, manufactured in Australia. All high turnover parts are designed by Cirlock and made in Australia, allowing the company to have good control over the quality of their parts.
What initiatives would Cirlock like to see from the government to better support safety equipment?
Government can encourage or make it mandatory for companies via legislation to utilise various kinds of safety equipment. While legislation is in place for a wide range of safety issues such as working at heights, confined spaces, use of hardhats and safety glasses, legislation is lacking in several Australian states for locking out energy sources before working on equipment. Companies with a good safety track record can be encouraged with tax benefits, which will not only contribute to making workplaces safer but also give more business opportunities to suppliers of safety equipment.
What’s the next ‘big thing’ to be expected from the safety equipment sector?
Cirlock expects greater use of mobile electronic equipment, for instance to receive safety status reports from machinery or maintenance projects in progress. These reports could provide instant information about the number of personnel on site, energy sources made secure (or not), and time to finish. Mobile equipment could also be used for access control, ensuring correct training has been obtained before equipment can be operated.