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All the latest news and updates from the UK's leading supplier of safety clothing and equipment

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  • Arco Provides Seed Funding for Polyester Recycling Trial

    15 March 2022

    Nearly 90 per cent of the 33 million workwear garments supplied annually end up in landfills or are incinerated. Many of these items are made from polyester, a plastic-based fabric and industry staple that uses an estimated 342 million barrels of oil every year to make.

    With a limited product lifetime and little to no infrastructure for recycling and manufacturing in the UK, workwear has a high social and environmental impact.

    As the UK's leading safety products and services company, Arco has committed seed funding to partner with start-up company Stuff4Life to support the research and development of a closed-loop, circular economy solution for polyester workwear. The funding will enable Stuff4Life to commission a chemical recycling demonstration plant in collaboration with Teesside University, bringing onboard its academic experts, world-leading research capabilities and state-of-the-art facilities.

    The plant will recover the base compound terephthalic acid (TPA), used in the production of polyester fabric, from recycled workwear. The recovered TPA will then be reincorporated into various manufacturing processes, with the goal being to manufacture new polyester to deliver a "PPE for Life" opportunity in the UK.

    As part of the trial phase, Arco and Stuff4Life will collect, shred and transport up to six tonnes of end-of-line polyester and polyester mix garments. The garments will then be recycled using chemical processes. Several batches of garments with different levels of polyester content will be put through the process and the results analysed, including the TPA quality.

    If the initiative is successful, Arco and Stuff4Life will be able to support a circular economy for workwear. This would see the TPA created through the chemical recycling activity sold back into the virgin polyester manufacturing process, with volumes externally audited and validated.

    Successfully recycling polyester and establishing an onshore UK supply chain would reduce the industry's dependency on fossil fuels and find value in waste. It will also significantly reduce pollution from the manufacturing process as recycled polyester uses 59 per cent less energy compared to virgin polyester. If successful, this will significantly help tackle the world's climate crisis.

    David Evison, Managing Director at Arco, said:

    "As a fifth-generation family business, Arco has always put corporate and social responsibility at the heart of the organisation. Our involvement with Stuff4Life and Teesside University is an opportunity to make a real difference to the environmental and social impacts of workwear and to use our scale and product development capabilities to drive an effective circular economy, supporting local regeneration and ensuring we protect more people and the planet."

    John Twitchen, Director of Stuff4Life, comments:

    "The humble hi-vis is an essential item for everyone working in hazardous environments, from mending roads and collecting bins to saving people at sea or up mountains. The impact of polyester as a linear make-use-dispose garment is significant, but by recycling it those impacts can be substantially reduced whilst keeping all the performance benefits from using synthetic fibres. We're excited to be working on such an important project with the country's leading safety company."

    Dr David Hughes, Associate Professor in Teesside University's School of Computing, Engineering and Digital Technologies, said:

    "Polymers no doubt have a hugely important role in the future of energy, resources, food, health and infrastructure. However, we need to decouple from a use and dispose economy to a circular, sustainable one. This project builds on Teesside's 20 years of experience in research into environmental and sustainable engineering technologies. We are hugely proud to be working with Stuff4life and Arco to make a real difference to the future of polymer sustainability."

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  • Arco Partners With Action For Children In Glasgow

    11 February 2022

    Arco has partnered with Action for Children - a children and family charity - to fund two new roles supporting young people and disabled children living in the Glasgow area.

    Following Arco's success in securing a contract to supply products and services to NHS Scotland, the fifth-generation family business was keen to link up with charitable and community organisations in the country and support initiatives that benefit the communities they serve.

    Action for Children supports children and young people across the UK, providing practical and emotional care and support, ensuring their voices are heard, and campaigning to bring lasting improvements to their lives. The partnership has funded the recruitment of a Community Support Worker and a Trainer/Qualifications Assessor within the organisation.

    The additional Community Support Worker is based at the recently refurbished Silverton Community Hub, a centre specially designed to support children and young people with complex learning difficulties and a range of physical health needs. Staff at the community hub provide personalised support, helping children to overcome barriers that may hinder their involvement in the local community. Staff facilitate access to local community-based facilities, resources, networks and amenities, including swimming pools, gyms, youth groups, green spaces and museums. This empowers the children to pursue their own personal interests and preferences while growing their confidence, social skills and reducing isolation by supporting children to form new friendships.

    The Trainer/Qualifications Assessor is supporting Action for Children's Youth Employability Project, a scheme that aims to help young people breakdown barriers to employment. Such barriers are addressed through valuable employability skills and vocational training, developing their aspirations, ambition and future job goals by encouraging their interest in learning.

    Bryan Lawrie, Commercial Director at Arco, said:

    "Arco is passionate about supporting the communities we work in and to helping children and young people achieve.

    "We are really proud to have partnered with Action for Children and enabled the charity to recruit to these important roles. Our support will help deliver tangible benefits and life-changing opportunities for young people in the Glasgow area by helping to improve wellbeing, quality of life and personal outcomes for disabled children and to develop employability skills and vocational training for young people so they can develop and progress into chosen careers.

    "It is great to see that the two new members of staff have settled into their new roles well and are already making such a positive difference to the lives of so many children and young people."

    Paul Carberry, Director for Scotland at Action for Children, said:

    "The transformation of the Silverton Short Breaks Hub has been incredible and we are grateful to Arco for its support in making this possible. The service is an important part of the local community and offers so many families the support they need.

    "I’m proud of what our staff have achieved in helping the children and families in South Lanarkshire and I'm excited by the many special memories those children and families will have at the Silverton Short Breaks Service this year and beyond."

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  • Are Your Gloves Offering Workers The Hand Protection They Need?

    03 February 2022

    Unless employers have studied the breakthrough times for the exact chemicals being used, their workers could be at risk of chemical exposure. Arco, the UK's leading safety expert warns of the risks of choosing the incorrect chemical protection gloves and how to check protection correctly.

    Gloves labelled as 'chemical' (certified as EN 374) are often used without checking their level of protection against the specific substances being handled. To achieve this standard, chemical gloves only need prove resistance against one chemical for ten minutes and even for the highest rating only six individual chemicals for 30 minutes, meaning 70% of Health and Safety professionals risk choosing gloves that don't promote the level of protection they think they will.

    Businesses may think they have selected the correct gloves for their workers in accordance with COSHH regulations, by using a glove type recommendation from an SDS or using breakthrough times for similar chemicals as a good approximation.

    Contact with chemicals can lead to a number of health issues that are not immediately obvious, such as dermatitis. Furthermore, chemicals can also pass through the skin and cause health problems elsewhere in the body, including permanent organ damage and cancer. With symptoms of serious illnesses sometimes taking years to emerge, it is estimated that 1,000 deaths each year (excluding lung disease deaths) are linked to past chemical exposure at work. Businesses will be liable and responsible for associated costs of skin damage and illness, even if the effects were not visible or the health risks were unknown at the time.

    With access to test data for 100,000s of chemicals and mixtures, as well as its own independently accredited testing laboratory, Arco is uniquely placed to advise on suitable gloves for their resistance to hazardous substances and chemical mixtures. With the COVID-19 pandemic and any subsequent challenges on the supply chain, Arco can help guide businesses in selecting reusable gloves when these are a suitable alternative to disposable ones. On top of this, Arco's team of safety experts can:

    • Assess your workplace and the chemicals being used
    • Help businesses select the most suitable gloves for each task
    • Run user trials
    • Provide employees with training on wearing gloves so that they know how long they can wear them for, and how to use them correctly

    Ross Constable, Laboratory Manager at Arco said:

    "Selecting the right glove for any potential exposure to chemicals is complicated and many companies don’t get it right. The time it takes for a chemical to pass through a glove (the breakthrough time) can vary dramatically and many factors can affect the level of protection chemical gloves offer, such as chemicals in different solutions and concentrations."

    "A common oversight is that mixing chemicals together can have drastic effects on their breakthrough time. The shortest breakthrough time for the individual chemicals in a mixture cannot always be used to judge a safe wearing time. With so many factors to consider, it is best to consult an expert and Arco can help support businesses with choosing the right pair of gloves for the task, chemicals and environment."

    For further information, to request a chemical survey or site visit or download expert resources, please visit RiskSeepingIn.

    Click here to browse Arco's range of chemical gloves and order online.

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  • Arco Response to the "Write Off" of Government Procured PPE During the Pandemic

    02 February 2022

    As the UK's leading safety company, Arco has responded to the announcement that £8.7billion of PPE procured by the Government during the pandemic has been written off following the publication of the Department for Health and Social Care's accounts for 2020/21.

    Thomas Martin, Chairman of Arco, said:

    "We are disappointed to read the details of the accounts published by the Department for Health and Social Care regarding the amount of PPE procured during the pandemic that will now be written off.

    "We understand that this £8.7bn cost is as a result of the Government buying equipment that was not fit-for-purpose, paying increased prices in a competitive global market and purchasing products that subsequently had passed their expiry date. Of most concern was the £2.6bn that was spent on PPE not suitable for use in the NHS.

    "Whilst we appreciate there was an urgent requirement for PPE for frontline responders at the beginning of the pandemic and that the Government was facing unprecedented and challenging circumstances, we still believe that, with our track record in sourcing, emergency planning and distribution of PPE, the Government could have engaged more proactively with Arco to benefit from our expert knowledge to support the process.

    "We still feel that there are important lessons to learn from what went wrong and we have produced a position paper: Personal Protective Equipment and the Government's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic in which we share our own experiences during the pandemic but, more importantly, we propose a 10-point set of recommendations that could help prevent a repeat of the issues that are now coming to light. Arco remains ready and willing to work with the Government and its agencies to ensure that we are better protected for any future emergencies."

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  • Inside Arco's New Safety Centre at Trafford Park

    25 January 2022

    The UK's leading health and safety expert Arco has officially opened a new Safety Centre in Trafford Park, Manchester. Created to provide both safety training and essential kit in one facility, the new Safety Centre will be home to state-of-the-art training facilities for working at height, confined space, respiratory protection, face fit testing and health & safety management as well as a new store offering over 2,000 products to choose from.

    To ensure that those working in situations with potential 'mortal risk' are equipped with the necessary training and practical experience Trafford Park Safety Centre is home to purpose-built specialist training facilities. The centre contains a confined space training labyrinth including more than 30 metres of tunnels and chambers and a variety of entry points. It also offers apparatus that simulate different working at height situations, including an external rooftop training facility with additional internal rooftop systems, a working at height gantry and a pitched roof (available soon). Trafford Park Safety Centre also houses training rooms that can accommodate both large and small groups for training and meetings.

    The new store, stocks a range of personal protective equipment, workwear and workplace safety equipment from all the biggest and trusted brands like TROJAN, Snickers, Regatta, Puma, DeWALT, MASCOT, CAT and lots more. To commemorate the official opening, Arco is offering 50% off* everything in-store on the 24th January and 30% off* everything for rest of the week. The Arco Clothing Centre will be on-site offering small quantity embroidery requests and as part of the MSA Recycle Helmet scheme, Arco is offering a free MSA V-Gard 520 Unvented Reduced-Peak Safety Helmet worth £12.27 for the first 50 customers who bring their old helmets into the store to recycle through MSA, in partnership with YES recycling.

    Paul Frewin, Divisional Director of Regions & Retail, said:

    "The opening of our new Trafford Park Safety Centre is an important milestone for Arco as it will provide our customers with a one-stop-shop for all of their safety needs. As experts in safety, we understand that each business faces its own unique and complex challenges and that, in order to manage workplace health and safety, we need to provide joined-up safety solutions to help our customers.

    "The new Trafford Park Safety Centre will offer customers the best possible selection of products and services with our own in-store experts available to offer advice and training, ensuring an effortless customer experience. In addition to providing both products and services in one place, we are confident that local tradesmen will enjoy the new location within the busy industrial estate."

    As industry experts, Arco's training team not only train professionals to carry out their job safely, but they also utilise these skills in the real world, supporting NHS Trusts with PPE Face-Fit Testing to protect staff throughout the pandemic, assisting in the Thailand and South Wales Cave Rescues, carrying out deep cleaning of the imperial war museum exhibits, and supporting the London Eye with a James Bond stunt ahead of the No Time to Die premier to name a few.

    For more information about the new safety centre located off the A5081, Wharfside Way, visit Arco Professional Safety Services.

    *In store only. Excludes training courses.

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