PPE compliance is a major concern for safety professionals. Despite new PPE developments that offer reduced weight and improved comfort and style, there are few new solutions that directly address an employee’s decision to wear PPE.
If you want to achieve real improvements in the use of PPE then you need to target what causes workers to forgo wearing it in the first place: human factors. Human factors training can reduce human error, which will make employees more likely to wear protective equipment, and provide other benefits to help you get the most from your PPE program.
Improve PPE use
When it comes to PPE compliance, the primary—and most obvious—benefit of human factors training is that employees become more likely to use protective devices. A lack of PPE use is usually caused by employees taking safety shortcuts or “forgetting”. Human factors training gives employees the skills and personal awareness to make better safety decisions, and helps them build stronger safety habits so they’re more likely to wear PPE when it is needed.
Avoid reliance on PPE
PPE protects people when they come into contact with hazardous energy, and in a complete safety program it’s the last line of defense. Human factors training can not only positively influence employees’ decisions to wear PPE, but it also helps people avoid making errors that put them at risk of hazardous energy. As a result, employees are less likely to need PPE, even as they get in the habit of wearing it more often, doubling the benefit of human factors training.
Create stronger safety culture
Safety is contagious. Once employees start following a few safety procedures they’re more likely to follow other ones too. Companies can see a tremendous spill-over effect in all areas of safety simply by boosting PPE use through human factors training.
PPE use can act as what Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, calls a “keystone habit.” Improved PPE use is often a guiding force that gets people in the habit of thinking about safety in all aspects of their life, keeping them safer at home, on the road and in other parts of their job that may not expressly require PPE.
If you’ve taken the required steps to meet PPE regulations but employees are still working without the proper PPE, consider implementing human factors training to improve PPE use, reduce errors and build an enviable safety culture.