There are many reasons employees may not wear their personal protective equipment (PPE) as required. One of the leading reasons is that PPE can be uncomfortable. When PPE does not fit well, is not appropriate for the weather conditions, or is made from materials irritating the skin, compliance is even more unlikely.
In addition to discomfort, distractions and forgetfulness can contribute to noncompliance. When employees do remember all the layers of necessary protective equipment, the inconvenience of putting it on and taking it off multiple times may lead them to skip using PPE altogether. In addition, when numerous types of PPE are required to achieve adequate protection, the more likely it is that one might slip their mind.
If employees increasingly disregard PPE use, it can lead to a normalization of nonconformity. This tendency for behaviors that were once viewed as unacceptable will become commonplace and assumed permissible.
One of the best ways to motivate employees to wear PPE consistently and correctly is to ensure that the PPE is as comfortable and well-fitting as possible. When determining which brands and types of PPE are most comfortable, get employee participation, such as shipping and receiving workers at a retail warehouse. Employee input will also instill a sense of ownership, giving them a stake in the process and increase consistent use of required PPE. Some vendors offer complimentary samples for your employees to try in the workplace.
It’s also crucial for management to follow policy and wear necessary PPE. As the saying goes, “walk the walk and talk the talk.” Leading by example speaks volumes about the safety culture at your shop.
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected].
Portions from Mark Saner, www.ohsonline.com March 2018