The revolution in knee protection
03 March 2016
The wellbeing of workers who spend time on their knees for prolonged periods is a major concern when you consider how commonplace knee injuries are. David Clark, managing director of the Hultafors Group UK, examines the options.
Sore and swollen knee joints are something that workers who spend time on their knees all suffer from at one time or another. It’s a perennial problem and highly aggravating, but prevention is far easier than cure by taking the proper steps to look after your knees.
The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body and there are different types injuries that are of particular concern to anyone who works on their knees.
The most common is probably Housemaid's Knee or Bursitis, which is caused by kneeling for long periods of time or by repetitive knee movements such as crouching down and standing up. Fluid builds up in the Bursa - which is the sack of fluid that cushions the knee joints – causing swelling, soreness and stiffness in the joint.
So what is the answer?
Effective knee protection on site is, as you might expect, covered by EU legislation. The EN 14404 Knee Protection Standard deals with the size, force-distribution and penetration-resistance of kneepads.
Type 2, Level 1 protection ensures reliable knee protection for craftsmen in a mobile working environment that involves regular kneeling to perform their job. This protection level is designed to protect the knees in all types of working environments with rough, hard and damp surfaces from small objects and debris up to 1 cm.
The Type 2, Level 0 standard designates effective knee protection for craftsmen who need to work on their knees indoors – but only occasionally. Designed to protect the knees on flat surfaces.
There have been various types of knee guards over the years. Strap-on pads that cut into the back of your knees, foam rubber mats and basic protection. But effective protection really only comes from a kneeguard system that has been thoroughly researched, tested and manufactured using materials that perform to the highest standard day in, day out.
The most effective kneepads have to work efficiently and in tandem with the work trousers they’re used with, staying in precisely the right position to ensure reliable knee protection. That is exactly what you’ll get with a properly designed knee guard positioning system.
Properly designed kneepad pockets should include special seams that allow you to adjust your kneepads into different positions to ensure superior knee protection. Effective kneepads should also feature a hard-wearing materials on the outside edges and softer materials in the centre to combine efficient pressure distribution and protection against sharp and rough objects with maximum comfort.
The design should also feature high sides to prevent your knees from sliding off the kneepads. This design approach will also ensure the kneepads extremely flexible when you walk, while closing around your knees when you kneel down.
Most workwear manufacturers supply kneepads for their work trousers. They vary in price, quality and effectiveness. For instance, you can now get a pair of rubber kneepads for as little as a £3.99 in a UK high street supermarket. It will come as no surprise to most that they have no guarantee of comfort or protection.
However, the more discerning tradesmen – those particularly concerned with their health and welfare on site – will be more interested in the world’s first ‘active’ kneepads that are proven to last twice as long as other kneepads and take cutting-edge knee protection to a completely new level with the revolutionary D3O materials.
High-tech D3O material
D3O is an active and specially engineered rubbery material comprising intelligent molecules which ‘flow’ with you as you move. On shock they lock together to absorb the impact energy to provide high-frequency protection.
The durable D3O material also features an extremely slow compression rate, ensuring that the kneepads keep their shape during hard work and over a long period of time.
And, given that Knees are not flat, the shape of kneepads with the D3O material is important. That's why kneepads with an ergonomic, pre-bent design that makes the kneepad close around your knee when kneeling.
So, when you work a lot on your knees, this material will give you by far the best, long lasting knee protection available.