Vietnam: Helmet Lets Front-Line Workers Remain Productive Longer

Vietnam: Helmet Lets Front-Line Workers Remain Productive Longer

Three Vietnamese students have designed a helmet that allows front-line health workers to have a snack or even scratch their nose without exposing themselves to the risks of coronavirus infection.

The pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the trade-off between the comfort and safety of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially for workers who are required to suit up in such outfits for many hours.

To address this problem, students were given a challenge to design a helmet connected to a respirator that not only protects but allows front-line workers to remain productive for longer.

The group came up with the Vihelm, a blending of Vietnam and helmet. It has a glove box access so wearers can fit their hands inside and, for example, wipe away sweat or clean a visor while keeping the helmet sealed. 

“A big difference with this helmet is the glove box. … You can use it to interact with your face safely,” said Tran Nguyen Khanh An, 14, one of the students who won a Best Invention Design Award at the International Invention Innovation Competition in Canada in August 2020. 

The futuristic helmet also has an internal compartment that can hold a snack and is attached by a tube to a powered air-purifying respirator.

While such respirators are considered significantly safer than standard masks, they can be far more uncomfortable than other forms of PPE. 

The Vihelm, which costs less than U.S. $300 to make, even has pockets around the head so users can scratch an itch. 

Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, said in a statement that the company had evaluated the helmet and offered technical feedback on its design. Vingroup has been producing ventilators throughout the pandemic.  Reuters