Personal protective equipment is necessary to perform a myriad of jobs safely, and yet in many workplaces, employees are often seen neglecting their PPE or using it incorrectly or inconsistently. Once the organization is aware of the functions they want their equipment to serve, then they can begin to consider the human factors that may be affecting PPE compliance.
Understand the environment
The PPE program should be built in response to the hazards present or associated with the workplace. The key is to be realistic while taking a preventative stance and to truly understand the environment. Managers must be able to explain to them the potential dangers associated with the job, and how the equipment safeguards against each one.
Secure and provide proper training
There is no point in revamping the PPE program if the company doesn’t make time to adequately instruct each employee in equipment use and safe disposal. Also, once the appropriate PPE is selected for the work environment, everyone affected must be properly sized and trained. Asking them to rely on sizing charts or manuals is insufficient and demonstrates a lack of interest in employee safety beyond the legally required minimum.
Employees need to know what specific types of PPE are needed and when they have to be used. In addition, every employee should be taught the ins and outs of their equipment, including making adjustments. During the selection process, employees should not only try on the PPE but also perform simulated work activities to test the fit and check for any malfunctions, imperfections or defects.
Don’t rely on PPE alone
PPE is not the only solution for protection against workplace hazards. In fact, it is often referred to as the last line of defense. It should be used in conjunction with engineering controls (physically changing a work area or process to reduce a workers’ exposure to the hazard), and administrative controls (changing how or when employees do their jobs and training them to reduce their exposure to workplace hazards).
Many slips, trips, and falls in the workplace are caused or made worse by an employee’s state of mind, such as rushing or fatigue. It’s important to add human factors training to the arsenal of measures to combat injuries. Addressing these issues can not only help prevent incidents but can also lead to a more self-aware workforce. And when employee awareness grows, from training to habit to culture, injuries are reduced and productivity is maximized.
But what happens when your employees are giving excuses not to wear PPE? It’s not always enough to just provide the right PPE for the job, if employees are choosing not to wear it, it really doesn’t matter what kind of PPE is provided.
Have you got ten minutes? Check out our on-demand webinar: Why People Don’t Wear PPE and How to Get Them to Start to learn how to move beyond just providing PPE to achieving PPE compliance.